Being institutionalized at St. Levitius for possessing strange abilities, Sam Schmealy and the lives of her friends are forever changed the day that an uprising occurs and they are all able to escape. Discovering that the people that she thought were her birth parents had actually adopted her, Sam feels betrayed by them and unwilling to return to them at this time. She is especially hurt that they didn’t believe what was going on at St. Levitius. There, children with unique gifts were actually being killed because of their special talents.
Sam decides to move in with the Schmealy’s next door neighbors Howard and Hazel Hewett. Howard also possesses unique abilities. The Hewitt’s take two other special girls, Dottie and Jane, into their home. They are all switchers, meaning that they can change into other forms. Sam turns into Whiskers, a black cat. Jane turns into a red and black skunk, and unfortunately for Dottie, she turns into a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.
The girls left behind friends that have other gifts as well, for example, a Weather Sorter can control the weather. A Floater can float. A Traveler can instantly move from one place to another, and a Fader can just disappear. Dr. Mason, Dottie’s father is at the heart of a scheme to destroy children with these special gifts. Feeling that the world would be in fear of them in case they decide to take it over, the girls learn to keep their gifts a secret.
When the girls learn that people like themselves are called Uniquians, they become more intrigued about their history and how they became this way. Discovering that all of them had once lived in a small village called Woodcrest, Sam feels drawn to the place. Learning that many of their family members had died when Woodcrest was intentionally burned down, adds to the mystery. Sam is determined to find her way there.