Beth Martin wakes up one day feeling she has wasted years of her life. She goes to St. Louis to visit her college roommate and take some time to get her bearings. But at a party she experiences a vision, which she finds disconcerting, but also compelling. Also compelling is her seemingly chance meeting with neuroscientist who is researching the vision phenomenon. Beth accompanies him to New Light, a visionary commune in the mountains where she meets its charismatic leader, a woman known as The Mother, and is befriended by some of the members. Their conception of America is challenging, most notably in their openness to sexual and emotional experimentation. Beth is intrigued by the sense of possibility she finds at New Light, but is also disturbed by the enormous power The Mother wields over the members' lives. In the end Beth must address questions of faith and personal responsibility, jealousy and desire, loyalty and tolerance.