Leopold Bloom King is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, a former nun, is the high school principal and a respected Joyce scholar. He has had an unremarkable, happy family life. But after Leo's ten-year-old brother commits suicide, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tight knit group of older high school students that includes Sheba and Trevor Poe - glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father - hard-scrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X. It's an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades, from 1960s counterculture through to the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, as well as the American South's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for.