Set in a provincial German town in the late 19th century, this coming-of-age story follows a group of adolescents on their provocative journey of exploration into adulthood. The characters struggle to discover who they truly are while dealing with extremely difficult issues including sexuality, child abuse, rape, and suicide. Facing the wonder and devastation of self-exploration, the adolescents are faced with parents and authority figures who try to oppress their desires and thoughts through the use of religion, education, and withholding of information. In turn, the adolescents suffer the consequences of the adults' actions. These issues still ring true in today's society.