It is the summer of 1959 and Bobby and his brother Ricky are on a road trip with their mother and grandmother driving from Cleveland, Ohio down to Florida. The reason for the trip is to drive grandma back home, but on their way they are touring Civil War battlefields.
Much farther south, an African American boy by the name of Jacob is taking the bus from Atlanta to go visit some relatives that live out in the country in Dalton, Georgia. He will spend a week there fishing with his uncle and spending time with his cousin.
Despite the seemingly pleasant circumstances surrounding both of these trips, each boy soon finds that disturbing events are beginning to affect their lives. Touring Civil War battlefields across the country, Bobby slowly realizes that his mother has decided on this trip to get them away from their abusive father and for her to decide if she wants to end the marriage. While in Dalton, Georgia, Jacob discovers that his big city behavior, his whistling and carrying on, does not sit well with the white people in the small town.
As the book progresses, the reader slowly realizes that we are watching these families geographically moving towards each other and, perhaps, to an explosion of violence. The tension soon rises on both sides. Bobby’s mother crashes the car outside of Chickamauga in a spasm of fear trying to drive away from some well intentioned black people. They will have to take the bus home. Meanwhile, Jacob has turned up missing in Dalton. His family back in Atlanta boards the very same bus in hysteria knowing, just knowing, that their boy has been killed by some country whites.
Author Tony Abbott deftly builds up each of the characters, exposing a history of violence and abuse in both families. The ending is as touching as it is painful and leaves open the questions of how these young men will continue to navigate a world and society that is fundamentally unjust. Excellent YA literature dealing with racism, family ties, abuse, brothers, and road trips.