In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging. Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.
Hassan is newly arrived in America and he misses his home in Somalia. Hassan has learned just a few words of English, and his first day at school is very different from back home and lonely. Hassan discovers a way to communicate through art. Hassan tells his story. His teacher invites an interpreter to the classroom so that he can share the story of his past.
Fritz, who longs to have a pet, captures a fish after the river floods his neighborhood, but must decide how long he can keep him in the apartment bathtub.