13-year-old Shida, whose name means "problem" in Swahili, has lived her life with a wealth of problems---her father is dead, her depressed mother is rumored to be a witch, her family bears the weight of a curse, and now the villagers of her rural Tanzanian village of Litongo are pressuring her to marry. So when the elders make a controversial decision to move the village over the hills, Shida welcomes the change. Surely the opportunity to go to school and learn from the village nurse can only mean good things!
However, when the villagers' cows are mysteriously let loose, the crops begin to fail, and Shida's young friend dies of illness, the people become convinced that they've made the wrong decision in moving. Despite these misfortunes, Shida is determined to prove to the villagers that they can have a better life in their new home.