Neglected by her parents, 19-year old Maya Vidal grows up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Nidia, affectionately known as Nini, is a force of nature --- willful and outspoken, unconventionally wise with a mystical streak, and fiercely protective --- a woman whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973. Popo, Maya’s grandfather, is an African-American astronomer and professor --- a gentle man whose solid, comforting presence helps calm the turbulence of Maya’s adolescence.
When Popo dies of cancer, Maya goes completely off the rails. With her girlfriends --- together they are known as the vampires --- she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime, a downward spiral that eventually bottoms out in Las Vegas. Lost in a dangerous underworld, she becomes caught in the crosshairs of warring forces --- a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI and Interpol. Her one chance for survival is Nini, who helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. Here Maya tries to make sense of the past, unravels mysterious truths about life and her family, and embarks on her greatest adventure: the journey into her own soul.