Alice Marano and Darlene Davis have been best friends since they were children despite their differences: Alice, from a working class family, is the one always living slightly on the edge, willing to take chances which often gets her into trouble, while Darlene, from an upper middle class family, is more straight-laced and naive. In the summer following graduation from their Midwestern high school, they want to do something big before Darlene heads off to college. Instead of a trip to safe but expensive Hawaii, Alice talks Darlene into an inexpensive eleven day trip to Thailand, the change in venue about which Darlene will not tell her parents. In wanting to experience Thailand beyond their budget, they end up trusting the wrong person which results in them getting arrested and charged with drug smuggling in Thailand. Under the corrupt system and in not knowing the language, they end up being convicted and sentenced to thirty-three years apiece in prison, where the conditions are harsh. They and Mr. Davis receive little help from the officials at the US Embassy, Roy Knox who likes to take the path of least resistance, which in the girls' case means not rocking the boat with the Thai authorities. Taking the advice from some of the other non-Thai inmates, they decide to reach out to and hire Henry Greene - "Hank the Yank" - an American expat lawyer, and his Thai lawyer wife, Yon Greene. Beyond his sleazy ambulance chasing exterior, Hank, who with Yon knows the system, really has the girls' best interest at heart as he tries to get them out of prison and back to the States. What could further affect what happens to the girls is if one of them is truly guilty of knowingly smuggling the drugs, or at least somewhat culpable about the drug matter.