The Moores - widowed father Gerry and his two teenage daughters Poppy and Molly - are a wealthy Malibu based family who have all the luxuries and modern conveniences of life. Ever since her mother died five years earlier in a car accident, sixteen year old Poppy has been acting out, causing her father grief most specifically in any of his attempts for meaningful relationships with other women. Although he has threatened to do so several times, Gerry, based on Poppy's latest actions, finally decides to send Poppy to boarding school, most specifically to Abbey Mount in England. It is an immediate fish out of water situation for Poppy, whose main goal is to get out of Abbey Mount and back to Malibu. Despite Poppy's initial antagonism toward her, she is befriended by Kate, who has been assigned her big sister in showing her the ropes around Abbey Mount, and the rest of the girls in their shared sleeping quarters. Kate can see that underneath Poppy's privileged exterior is a scared girl who just wants to get along in life. Kate and the gang counsel Poppy in that if she really wants to get out of Abbey Mount, the only way is to do something or a series of somethings to get expelled. This task is easier said than done as the school's principal, Mrs. Kingsley, can see in Poppy the same thing that Kate does. Through her stay at Abbey Mount, Poppy continually butts heads with the school's snobbish head girl, Harriet, who rules her entourage and the school's younger students with an iron fist. Harriet would like to see Poppy gone as well, especially as Freddie Kingsley, Mrs. Kingsley's teenage son, who Harriet fancies as her boyfriend, seems to be falling for Poppy. Poppy, in turn, decides to use Freddie in achieving her goal. But in using Freddie and seeing an old photograph hanging on the school wall, Poppy may come to some realizations about both her life and friends at Abbey Mount as well as those same aspects previously in Malibu.