Colm, 15, opts to stay behind when his mother heads off to Las Vegas on her honeymoon. He plans to take this time to upgrade the family laundry room as a surprise for his mother. However, any plans Colm has are destroyed when he finds his beloved dog, Chester, dead in the yard the first morning after his mother's departure. Colm does not know how to tell anyone about this loss. It would ruin his mother's honeymoon for sure. But he knows there is now a huge empty hole in Colm's life. As Colm struggles to fill this void, a phone call from his long gone father, Lloyd Henry, throws Colm's neatly ordered existence into chaos. One thing for sure: Colm wants nothing to do with this man, the man who walked away from his family years ago leaving Colm to function as the head of the house.
Ackerman's career as a screenwriter stands her in good stead here. The story unfolds cinematically, never rushed, with lots of close ups and long shots. Colm is a mass of contradictions as are most of the members of his family. He is negotiating his way through these paradoxes as he also deals with the the conflicting feelings about his parents. Teen readers will see much of themselves in Colm, especially in his relationships with family and friends.