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For diverse reasons, three teenagers leave their homes and run off to Chicago's hippie district. Shelly Allen, the daughter of a well-to-do advertising executive, feels neglected by her busy father; Dewey Norson, a Nebraska farm boy, lacks the courage to face his morally-rigid father when his girl friend claims to be pregnant; and Deanie Donford, the daughter of a nagging, distrustful mother and an emasculated father, believes herself to be socially and sexually repressed. Alone in the city, Shelly accepts the offer of two apparently respectable girls, Joanne and Alicia, to share their apartment with her. She soon learns that they are prostitutes working for a call girl ring, and she is abducted and beaten when she poses a threat to the operation. Later, she meets and moves in with Dewey, who is already somewhat disenchanted because of his acquaintance with Terry, a draft-dodging slum boy who believes in taking what he wants and who uses the hippie philosophy as a cover-up for laziness. Deanie unwisely enters into an affair with Loch Riccano, a jealous musician, then transfers her affections to his roommate Curly, and she ends up in the city morgue. Terry steals a car and dies in a flaming crash; Shelly is found by her remorseful father; and Dewey learns that his father is capable of more understanding than he imagined. As the two of them return to their respective homes, they agree to keep in touch with each other.