Adam Wagner is a gifted, home-schooled, 17 year-old Christian young
man. Klara, his mother, is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Klara and Carsten, his father, both recognize his need for a science education beyond what he can get at home. They encouraged Adam to finish out his senior year by joining the local Salem Area Public High School.
Salem High School is embroiled in a high profile court case. The Area School Board introduced an Intelligent Design Curriculum in the science classroom. Sean McCormick, the high school’s biology teacher, organizes the class action lawsuit. Sean knows of Adam’s talent and strong science interest and extends an invitation to join his exclusive science team. Sean learns of Adam’s Mennonite and homeschool lifestyle and finds him a good subject for his Doctoral thesis. He seeks to broaden Adam’s horizon challenging him to consider evolution as a superior explanation for the origins of life. Adam is both alarmed and excited by this opportunity when he is thrusted into the very different world of public high school.
He meets Jasmine, a suicide pact survivor. Jasmine becomes interested in Adam when she surmises that he is an outsider. He learns of her secret intention of following through with the suicide. She convinces her counselor that she is well ready to return to school in order to get an opportunity to end her life at home. She lives with her mother who battles a drug addiction. Her mother runs around with a fellow addict involved in criminal activity and both are soon arrested.
Caesar is an Afghanistan war veteran who is mourning the loss of his platoon, his sister’s suicide, and rejection from his fiancé. He approaches Jasmine to come to grips with his sister’s suicide and learns of the connection between the suicide pact and Sean’s book. He and his friend Joe decide they are going to run Sean right out of town. In his misery he talks his friend Joe into a venture to get rid of Sean by frightening him. They wear gorilla suits and take Sean hostage in the forest to threaten him to leave town. This effort backfires.
Adam gets to know a special needs boy from the neighborhood: Phoenix. Phoenix is a moderately retarded teenager who lives with his great aunt, Aunt Carol. Phoenix becomes restless and attacks the school bus for fun. When he gets into trouble with the law he is forced into the integration program at Salem High School. Phoenix is introduced to Cro-Magnon Boy comic book that Sean hands out to students. He begins to call himself Cro-Magnon Boy and channels his energy by selling Cro-Magnon Boy silk-screen t-shirts.
Adam decides to purchase a used Camaro with the help of his father. This is a move towards what appears to his younger brother Jerid, a rejection of his Mennonite ways. However, his father is giving him liberty to choose his own path.
The events of Adam’s experience bring many of these people together in a crashing fashion that allow him to engage his faith with the events in his life. He is for the first time interacting with the world and learns how to balance the teaching of Christ regarding being in the world and yet not of the world.
Adam does not shy away from attempting to help his new friends in their needs. Phoenix becomes dangerous to himself when he discovers his Aunt has died in her sleep. Jasmine is sent back to rehab when her mother and boyfriend are arrested. Sean is held hostage by Caesar and Joe in the forest. Adam is connected to all of these events in a way that challenges his faith and stretches him as a Christian. The outcome is that Adam and his family extend the love of Jesus and become a safe place for the hurting young people who are in need of love.