Eli Bell's life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail, and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli's life is Slim - a notorious felon and national record holder for successful prison escapes - who watches over Eli and August, his silent genius of an older brother.
Exiled far from the rest of the world in Darra, a seedy suburb populated by Polish and Vietnamese refugees, this 12-year-old boy with an old soul and an adult mind is just trying to follow his heart, learn what it takes to be a good man, and train for a glamorous career in journalism. Life, however, insists on throwing obstacles in Eli's path - most notably Tytus Broz, Brisbane's legendary drug dealer.
But the real trouble lies ahead. Eli is about to fall in love, face off against truly bad guys, and fight to save his mother from a certain doom - all before starting high school. .