In Contenton, everybody smiles, but only because it's the law. The Happiness Laws ban all simpering, whimpering, scowling, glaring, and particularly crying in public. And they all lived happily ever after.
Except for Rebecca Swansen, a seventeen-year-old girl who fears she might be a criminal. She suffers through school with a tense smile on her face. She wants nothing more than to be happy, but can't seem to blend in with the popular crowd of grinning, giggling girls. Instead she sits in a tree with her best friend, Peter Barrett, and whispers dangerous ideas and forbidden thoughts.
Peter is not interesting in hiding. He wants to run. If he can only convince his best friend to follow him out into the unknown world, he believes he can find a different kind of happiness. Little does he know that being happy isn't as simple as leaving a place that makes you unhappy. Together Rebecca and Peter search out freedom, independence, and contentment in a runaway adventure that tests the strength of Contenton's smile.