Abby Carson is failing sixth grade.
It isn't that Abby can't do her schoolwork, it's just that she doesn't like doing it. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all of her slacking off could cause her to be held back-for real! Unless she meets some specific conditions, including taking an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country. Simply enough (even for a girl who hates homework).
When Abby's first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, Sadded Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal..... Well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So, hi younger sister dictates and signs the letter-until Sadded decides what his sister is telling Abby isn't what he'd like Abby to know.
As letters flow back and forth between Illinois and Afghanistan, Abby and Sadeed discover that their letters are crossing more than an ocean. They are crossing a huge cultural divide and a minefield of different life-styles and traditions. Their growing friendship is also becoming a growing problem for both communities, and some people are not happy. Suddenly things are not simple!