The 60s have flickered into the 70s, and hippie influences have trickled down to the high school. A charismatic young messiah quits college and returns to his old high school to lead the kids in an anti-racism demonstration. The students are catalyzed and rise up to battle the suburban power structure. The trouble starts when this 60s legend is shown to be losing touch with reality. Our narrator struggles to understand the messiah's descent, postponing all planning for college as he and his friends take on the social Darwinist hierarchy of high school. The more comic the events, the deeper the menace grows as this dizzying senior year unfolds.
The clash of forces comes during a seminal era when the anti-war movement, feminism, counterculture and black power combined to singe the letter-sweaters and pom-pons of classic high school culture. "As so often happens when history is being made, youth becomes the conscience of society," says our narrator in his belated college application. "But there were fissures in our ranks we all hailed from different social categories."