Syd Callens moves to Augusta, GA six weeks before the start of ninth grade and her beloved father’s funeral. She’s overwhelmed by the city of 200,000, which compared to Vidalia, is a crazy-paced cultural mecca. Syd stubbornly withdraws, refusing to cry at her daddy’s burial: “I didn’t cry when he got sick and I didn’t cry when he got sicker. I was only angry that he left me.”
She wallows in grief, resisting help from her mother or anyone on the outside, including an extension of friendship from Seth, her first crush—a boy who’s already spoken for and whose eyes look like the deep end of the pool. She also deals with the ensuing humiliation that comes when a girl realizes that everyone at school has mistaken her for a boy.
Syd feels an instant connection to Mel, a fellow oddball who clunks around Greenbrier in army boots and dresses. The attraction turns to mistrust however, when Mel divulges a secret Sydney takes for a lie. The girls are mere inches from forging a friendship but then Mel mysteriously disappears, leaving Sydney alone to wonder what happened and to face daily abuse from Greenbrier’s two meanest bullies—Ashley and Megan.