Twelve-year-old Rey is sent to an old rundown steel town near Pittsburgh, where he has to deal with his aging grandparents, isolated dad, missing mom, bullies, broken bridges, and horseradish sauce.
While Rey sits on an airplane bound for Pittsburgh, he clutches a crumpled note. It's been forty-one days since his mom left - no word since. Rey is being sent to Pittsburgh for the summer to stay with his grandparents, so his dad can pull his life together.
Rey is timid, unsure, yet has to make choices. These choices lead him to become more confident, as he makes the transition from child to teenager.
Arriving in the middle of a heat wave he quickly runs into trouble with bullies and is in several difficult situations. Through it all he finds a true friend, Jason and discovers a mentor in his grandfather. Both bonds are put to the test when his grandfather becomes extremely sick and Rey has a final confrontation with the bullies. And then there are his parents.
Will things ever return to normal?