It's the early 90s and the first day of a new school term and a terrible start for 16-year-old Erin as she wakes up to find her cousin Orla reading her diary. Not so great for everyone else either as Granda Joe announces there's a bomb on the bridge. The Quinn family are distraught - it's a huge inconvenience and Aunt Sarah may not even be able to get to her sunbed session. Erin and Orla head to school picking up their friends Clare, who's doing a sponsored fast for Ethiopia, and Michelle, who has her cousin James in tow. James is over from England and will be joining them at Our Lady Immaculate Girls School amid concerns he'd get beaten up at the boys' school 'because of the English thing..'..
Everyone's really excited when Sister Michael announces the school trip this year is to Paris. Erin's keen to cultivate her writing (and a friendship with Charlene Kavanagh, the most popular girl in school), Clare and James want to improve their French, Orla thinks she's going to meet Nicole and Papa from the Renault Clio adverts and Michelle wants to ride a French fella. But they don't bank on the fact that the trip costs andpound;375, each! Back at the Quinn house Uncle Colm, Granda Joe's extremely boring brother, is visiting and the whole family are losing the will to live.
The girls have been up all night cramming for a big exam. Some (Michelle and Erin) haven't studied for it enough whilst Clare's over-studied, leaving herself completely sleep deprived and slightly manic. Everyone is convinced they're going to fail. So when a distinctly dubious opportunity presents itself to get out of the exam they jump at the chance. Especially as it involves them spending time with the very beautiful Father Peter.
Derry is welcoming the 'Children of Chernobyl' - teenagers, affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, who have been sent from their contaminated homeland for a few weeks of fresh air to, as Sister Michael puts it 'give their wee lungs a clear out'. The Quinns are hosts to one of these 'children' - Katya. Erin couldn't be more excited - she can't wait to share her wisdom and benevolence with this 'poor Ukrainian girl'. Katya, however, turns out to be sophisticated, confident, sexy and a lot less grateful to be in Derry than Erin had expected, unless you factor in one of the gang. Meanwhile the rest of the family has other preoccupations - a new development in Granda Joe's love life leaves his daughters deeply unimpressed.
It's July 12th and the Quinn family are rushing to get out of Derry before the Orange Parades start. They're packed and nearly ready to go when James, Michelle and Clare arrive as unexpected members of the escape party. Aunt Sarah has recently started reading tarot cards and is predicting disaster for this trip - and, for once, she might just be right... The question is only where and how will this disaster come?.
Erin is over the moon when she becomes editor of the school magazine, Orla's obsessed by step aerobics, and Da Gerry is in trouble with Ma Mary. And there's romance for Aunt Sarah.