The story opens as a jarring phone wakes lifelong Brooklynite and widowed father Teddy Mentor well after midnight. It's the Montana wilderness program saying that his 16-year-old adopted son has run away - and they haven't a clue where he's gone. Only two weeks ago, Jesse had been taken to the program by escorts to deal with substance abuse problems. Jeopardizing his flagging PR job in New York, Mentor rushes across the country to find Jesse, who is off on his own quest: to find Theresa, the sister he's never known. When Teddy finally discovers Jesse at a bus stop in Illinois, he is torn between sending him back or joining his son on a journey to find this girl in Kentucky. But he decides to go and they become embroiled in a grisly crime when Theresa's abusive husband Beau attacks her - Jesse stabs the big beast of a man, leaving him for dead.