Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is a 13-year-old girl searching for identity and independence. For a class project, she must write about someone she hasn't met but still admires, so she chooses her late biological mother. In order to learn more, Vada journeys to Los Angeles on a school break, staying with her uncle Phil (Richard Masur). Nick (Austin O'Brien), Phil's girlfriend's son, reluctantly agrees to show Vada around the city. But, before long, he's wrapped up in her search for truth.