Sam is a shy, 15-year-old boy navigating two social worlds: the uptight bullies at his all-boys private school and the small uncouth gang in his neighborhood.
This gang of five follows the typical teenage-boy pattern; they drink, smoke, cause fights and vandalize property. Sam desperately wants to be accepted, but he soon finds that the only way to gain respect amongst the crew is to fight violence with violence. And it hurts. At school, Sam keeps to his own dream world when he s not consorting with his best (and only) friend Daniel or getting sent out of class for talking back to his teachers.
His stubborn behavior often lands him in meetings with his guidance counselor, the sage Jesuit Don, whose measured wisdom is transmitted to Sam through a haze of constant cigar smoke. When it comes to girls, Sam is lost without Daniel. After hesitantly agreeing to be Daniel s wingman on a blind date, Sam inadvertently meets the girl of his dreams. Antoinette is perfect: blonde, slender and sexy, and Sam is enamored.
On Daniel s advice, Sam decides to throw a small house party with the intention of losing his virginity to the most beautiful girl in the world , but Daniel has his own agenda with Antoinette s best friend and Sam is meanwhile overtaken by fear, anxiety and his first experience with weed. After an awkward attempt to get Antoinette into his parents bed, it seems Sam may have ruined his chances.
But when he later discovers that Daniel has secretly been dating Antoinette behind his back, Sam learns the real cost and shame of falling in love at the price of friendship. This blow is followed quickly by another just when Sam feels he s finally become regarded as part of the neighborhood gang, the boys find a dead body hanging from a tree at their favorite hangout spot. Sam s absence from this discovery further reinforces his distance from the other boys, and he finds himself once again on the edges, unable to identify with their new found pain and further than ever from being accepted.
But being a teenager is all about redemption and recrimination, small events becoming catastrophic, and seemingly huge moments eventually meaning nothing. Through these events that shape a teen, Sam discovers the boundaries of sexuality, friendship, authority, and the possibility of death.