It’s 1932. Thirteen-year-old Gretchen Keller lives in a hotel in downtown Chicago where her widowed mother works as a cook. With the Great Depression gripping the country, Gretchen is grateful that her mother has a job, but she longs to return to their family farm. The Kellers, and other German immigrants, worry about growing unrest in their homeland. Things get worse for everyone when Terwig, a mobster, takes over the hotel. He and his goons terrorize and steal from the tenants, even robbing the Kellers of a bell that has been in the family for generations. Rumors circulate that the gangster kidnaps teenaged girls. But no one dares stand up to him. Can Gretchen and the other tenants find a way to rid their building of Terwig?