Twelve-year-old Sammy may have Down syndrome, but he is fully aware of the difference between good and bad, and right and wrong. When his mother slaps his face for saying a bad word, Sammy gets on his bike and runs away. He doesn”t really mean to leave home for long, but someone steals his bicycle and, in searching for it, Sammy ends up lost in the woods, where he accidentally stumbles into the secret hideout of Kevin, a reform-school escapee. Not wanting his cover blown, Kevin ties up Sammy and holds him hostage until he can decide what to do. Kevin is tough and mistrustful, but eventually warms up to Sammy as the two share stories and struggle to survive in the woods. At one point, Sammy, a champion swimmer, saves Kevin from drowning, and in another touching scene, Kevin defends Sammy when some teenage boys in a mall make fun of him.
Sammy”s adventure with Kevin, spanning 13 days, is seen entirely from Sammy”s point of view, and author Harry Mazer captures Sammy”s internal world with pitch-perfect confidence. The narrative is spare, yet moving, and Sammy”s lack of guile stands in excellent contrast to Kevin”s sharp, "wild-kid" attitude. The two outcasts form a poignant bond, and in the end, when Kevin disappears after making an anonymous phone call to the police, readers will identify with Sammy”s conflict about being rescued, and going home and losing his new "brother." The narrative is divided into short, suspenseful chapters, and the action zips along in this intriguing survival story with a difference.