Layla is a 14-year-old girl working 12-16 hours per day, 7 days a week for a wealthy family in Southern California. She speaks no English. She does not attend school. She does not leave the family’s property and rarely spends time out of the house. Her existence is a secret to the outside world. The family is headed by businessman Sam Sahal and his domineering, sadistic wife Suzanne. Layla’s job is to perform all the housekeeping and cooking for this family of five – the two parents and their three Americanized children. Layla lives in squalid conditions in a makeshift room in the garage of this million dollar home.
While working for the Sahals, Layla is befriended by Emilio, the pre-teen son of the Mexican gardener. They too are in this country illegally. Emilio teaches Layla to speak, read and write English, even though he himself does not attend school. They meet secretly, once a week, for more than a year. They both long for the first taste of the American dream – education. Oldest son Adam discovers that Layla is spending time with the Mexican gardener’s son. He becomes jealous and strikes her. When Emilio sees the bruise on her face, he becomes enraged and takes drastic actions that will put himself and his father in danger.