In 1870s small-town Nebraska, nothing is easy for young Nathaniel Peale. His leg is crushed in a farming accident, so he can no longer help his father on the farm.
Afraid he'll lose their homestead, Mr. Peale adopts a young boy named John Worth through the Orphan Train system. Nataniel feels replaced by this young boy and frustrated because he lost the closeness he had with his father. He also struggles to keep up with kids half his age when he attends school for the first time.
John Worth doesn't have it any easier. His family died in a fire in New York City and now he's on a farm in Nebraska with no idea what to do.
The boys struggle to find their place in their new family situations. Their struggle comes to a head when talk of a range war starts and they spot the person who's out to heat things up by cutting fences.