Set in the tumultuous period of Guam history, between the Spanish-American War and World War II, the lives and loves of three Chamorro women unfold amid the changes and challenges around them. Sixteen-year old Amanda falls of a navy seaman who leaves her with child. Her daughter Sylvia grows up an illegitimate orphan. Yet she finds happiness with Tino Camacho, who loves her despite her scandalous background. Life teaches their daughter, the level-headed Vivian Camacho, that falling for an American navy man is futile, like reaching for the moon.
Cultural and racial prejudices increase the distance. Vivian avoids such futility until the handsome Philip Avery, an up-and-coming naval engineer, enters her life as an upstairs tenant newly assigned to Guam. Vivian falls in love with him but knows nothing can come of it. Philip is from a different world, one of wealth, rank, and privilege. Vivian is a simple island girl who lives under naval government rule. Philip is a man well beyond her reach. He is as distant from her world as the moon; he is the mansion there. Philip falls in love also, but his career comes first. Both deny their feelings for each other; their love cannot be. But love knows no distance, sees no differences.