As a teenager, Cleo hits the road, armed with only $20 in egg money, her dead father's trumpet, and a copy of My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel. She had tried to grow up as afast as she could on a farm in Robina County, Oklahoma, in the 1920s. The 432 books she has borrowed from the local pharmacy/lending library have given her a bad case of wanderlust.
The Himalayas sound pretty daunting, even to a girl like Cleo, so she settles on Tulsa instead, playing her horn in a speakeasy and fending off a lecherous minister. Years pass, and in the wake of a senseless tragedy Cleo goes as far west as California, but ultimately returns home to Oklahoma to reconcile with her Bible-quoting mother, write the biography of her ninety-seven year old grandmother, and begin a new business venture.
Despite the narrow compass of her travels, Cleo's mind and spirit range free and interpret everyday experience in original ways. She ends her tale rooted in Robina but with eyes firmly fixed on the far horizon.