There is a bleakness in places like the Riordan Home for Boys, a lack of hope bred by repetition, routine and a realization that the childhood lost years ago may have been the best chance at happiness there will ever be. At thirteen, Riordan resident Pete O'Boyle is walking the edge of that bleakness, doing his best to keep from falling. Pete navigates the Riordan Home with his head down, keeping mostly to himself. He follows the rules and does his best to go unticed. But his newly-arrived roommate, Manny, challenges Pete's self-imposed separation and offers him something in short supply at Riordan: friendship. Manny's outlook and influence force Pete to consider the humanity of his fellow residents and to confront the truth of his own past and his reasons for being at the Home.
CHRIS STEELE has spent his adult life working with adolescents, first as a group home supervisor and for the past 14 years as a high school English teacher. He lives in the Sacramento area with his partner and their two children.