Ellis Mazer is a soon-to-be father, a first year English teacher, and a directionless twenty-something entering the directionless 2000-somethings. Local and national tragedies feed Mr. Mazer's seventh graders the essay fodder that almost makes his job bearable. But when Spencer--trailer trash with more ring worms than friends--stops coming to school, Ellis discovers that he may be the only person who even notices, much less cares. What begins as a good-natured attempt to deliver some make-up work tumbles headlong into a quest deep into hillbilly noir in an attempt to verify that there is still some good in what appears to be a crumbling world.
Ellis is partnered with The Drew--full-time assistant principal, part-time private detective. He and The Drew explore the shadows and calluses of backwoods Arkansas to find that Spencer's disappearance is directly linked to the disappearance of a little girl. And it doesn't much feel like anyone wants the truth of what happened to either kid to emerge. Even Ellis is unsure of how much he cares. He only knows that in order to believe in his ability to be a husband or father, for some reason, he must find Spencer.
Among the swirling depravity of society, the crippling panic of impending parenthood, and the mounting scrap heap of seventh grade essays, one Arkansas town sees two kids go missing. Ellis Mazer only wants to find one of them. And if he can pull that off, he might not ever become a good teacher, but he might at least become a good person