This tightly compressed story takes place during Josh's four-day visit to his Aunt Clara in Ryan Creek, Australia.
Josh has difficulty interacting with the young people in this remote country village; he learns what it means to be an outsider, uncertain of how he is expected to behave. His way of life, code of behavior, and values seem totally foreign to the young people of Ryan Creek, as do theirs to him. He is sensitive enough to grieve when his behavior pains others, and human enough to react angrily when the other young people embarrass him. During his illfated visit, Josh takes a step toward adulthood—he makes his own decisions and follows them. Perhaps of greatest importance, he returns home to Melbourne with his integrity intact, and wise Aunt Clara lets him go.