Murphy wants to grow up fast and be a fisherman. It's what men do in his small Newfoundland community. Then one cold day in 1929, a tsunami strikes the Burin Peninsula, destroying most of the out port and killing many people. Suddenly the twelve-year-old is doing a man's work, saving lives and caring for the people he loves.
His dad died the day Murphy was born. Since no out port family can survive without a man to fish, his mom had to find a job in St. John's and Murphy stayed behind to be raised by his uncle and aunt. But Murphy has a grand plan. Soon he'll become a fisherman, build a house and bring his mom home to live with him.
Then a day and night of terror begins with a small earthquake. An old-timer says there'll be a tidal wave coming, but people don't believe it. Murphy goes outside later to check and hears an odd sucking noise. All the water is gone from the harbour! It shoots back in a sixty-foot wave that fills the harbour and claws its way up the hill. He has only moments to save his aunt and cousins from the roaring water.