Twenty-one-year-old Alyssa Florescu wakes up at her impoverished home in Eastern Europe on New Year's Day in 1995 and decides to change her life. She's not sure what she should do, but she does know she can no longer live in her country with its tired traditions, lifestyle, and culture—she wants a free and independent life.
Inspired by a friend, she decides to go to America. Even though she doesn't know anyone there and speaks little English, she overcomes her fears and doubts, and within a year she's off to America with $100 in her pocket.
However, Alyssa's bravery soon wears off and she starts to second guess her decision as she struggles with loneliness and being away from her friends and family while fitting into a new culture. But as she continues to work for a wealthy family, she becomes mentally stronger, and when she sees Manhattan for the first time, and she's determined to succeed in her new city.
One cold evening, Alyssa is on the rooftop of a townhouse and she locks herself out. There she encounters Gilles, a wealthy French man. Their relationship grows and they become deep and loving friends. They soon marry, even though Gilles is in another loving relationship with a man, Mark. Through this friendship, Alyssa is lifted out of the grinding poverty and loneliness of her life as an immigrant, and into the world of wealth, glamor, and fashion.
One weekend in the Hamptons, Alyssa confronts Gilles about hiding his relationship with Mark, and what it means to be free and in love. As Gilles thinks about his life, Alyssa is contacted by Rachel, an art dealer from Arizona. Rachel and Alyssa strike up a friendship, as Rachel orchestrates a secret plan for Alyssa to meet her husband Maximillian—Alyssa's first true love.
Based on real events, the The Yellow Suitcase is an immigrant's story about love, courage, and freedom. Written in the first person with internal dialogues to expose Alyssa's innermost thoughts, the story is told through drama, comedy, and self-reliance.