Gene spends two months in bed, nursed by Tara, her mother, and some of her siblings. His weakened condition means that Tara begins to tell him about her life, hopeful that they might enter into a new stage of their relationship. Meanwhile, Shawn announces that he is engaged to a woman named Emily. Tara is convinced that Shawn is already being abusive toward her and will only get worse, so she seeks out a chance to speak with Emily alone. To Tara's surprise, Emily confides that she is frightened of Shawn and his abuse, but also believes that he has a spiritual mission.
When Tara returns to Utah, she considers telling Nick the truth about everything, but she is still too ashamed. She hides the truth about her family from him. In September, Emily and Shawn get married, and Tara breaks up with Nick, because she doesn't believe she will ever be able to be honest with him.
In her junior year, Tara switches from studying music to history. Tara confides in her history professor, telling him about her unconventional schooling. He suggests she consider applying to a study abroad program at the University of Cambridge in England.
When Tara returns to Buck's Peak for Christmas, her father is treated as a hero and prophet for surviving his terrible accident. Meanwhile, struggles with a difficult pregnancy. In the winter semester, Tara learns that her Cambridge application has been rejected, but her professor has intervened on her behalf. In February, Emily gives birth to a tiny, premature baby at home in a snowstorm and has to be rushed to the hospital. Miraculously, both Emily and the baby survive, but the events make Tara further question her family's reliance on trusting God.
Tara is astonished by the world she encounters when she arrives at Cambridge. She plans to work on a research project with Professor Steinberg, who is fascinated by Tara's story of her unconventional educational background. Under his guidance, Tara reaches a new level of critical analysis and writing. Professor Steinberg quickly begins to discuss Tara's plans for graduate school, suggesting she might study at Cambridge and assuring her he will handle the financial details. Noticing her discomfort, he urges her to believe in herself, but Tara is still fixated on her shame.
After Tara returns to BYU, she plans to forget about Cambridge, but Professor Steinberg urges her to apply to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which could potentially fund her graduate studies. By February, Tara has been awarded the Gates Scholarship. In the press, she never mentions having been homeschooled, and her father tells her he is disappointed in her for hiding her upbringing. Nonetheless, her parents do attend her graduation, and drive her to the airport on the night she flies to England.