It's 1967 in rural Iowa as drugs, corporate farming, and Vietnam are beginning to take their toll
on small-town American life. When Charles Weaver's plans for the summer after high school graduation go awry, he ends up working for the street crew in his hometown before heading off to college.
Charles, school valedictorian and son of a lawyer, not only knows nothing about driving tractors and laying asphalt, he can't remember even meeting the regular members of the crew: Dexter, who collects discarded furniture for the house he's going to build someday in the Ozarks; the Shakespeare-quoting Moss, a teacher in rural schools before consolidation of the district, and their boss, Clyde, whose strength and temper are legendary in Savannah County.
Two things change Charles's summer experience and life dramatically. On the spur of the moment he asks Clyde's daughter, Frankie, to go on a date and their romance is a surprise to everyone. Then, the oldest log church in Iowa is destroyed by fire, and Charles stumbles upon a badly-burned body while cleaning up debris. Was this an outsider mixing meth in the hard-to-find church, as the sheriff contends? Or was someone local involved, as Charles suspects? Charles, the sheriff, and Frankie collide in a stunning climax of this novel about a boy becoming a man through his growing awareness of the complexity of love and the subtle power of evil.