Qian Xiaohong is born into a sleepy village far from China's headlong rush towards development. A scandalous love affair launches the buxom but unwordly sixteen-year-old on a journey to the southern boomtown of Shenzhen. There, released from the stifling conservatism of her rural upbringing, Xiaohong must navigate a strange new world with unfamiliar rules and values, and learn to go on in the face of great adversity. Along the way, Xiaohong finds support and solace from her fellow 'northern girls', with whom life's challenges and pleasures can be shared. Northern Girls explores the inner lives of a generation of young, rural Chinese women who embark on life-changing journeys in the search of something better.