Coming of age in the 1950s, seventeen-year-old Noora is unlike other women of the sun-battered mountains at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Though she shares their poverty and, like them, bears life's hardships without complaint, she is also fiery and independent. Following the death of her mother and her father's descent into dazed madness, Noora flees the threat of an arranged marriage, only to be driven back to her unwanted fate by disappointment and heartbreak. As the third wife to a rich, much older man, Noora struggles to adjust to her new home by the sea, thinking of herself as a sand fish--the desert lizard she observed in the mountains, which, when stuck in the wrong place and desperate to escape, smashed itself again and again into unyielding rocks. But then a light is shone into her miserable darkness, resulting in an unexpected passion, a shocking indiscretion, and a secret that could jeopardize Noora's life.