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There are a number of conflicts in the story, but the main one is the difficulty the family is having with oldest son Byron's rebellious behavior. Byron, a young teen, is sullen and rude. His friends are not positive influences in his life, and Byron appears to be headed for trouble, ditching school, playing with fire, refusing to study, and straightening his hair. Byron's behavior affects his relationships with all the members of his family. The family takes drastic measures, intending to send Byron to live with his Grandmother in Birmingham for awhile.
Other conflicts in the story involve Kenny, the main character. Kenny has difficulties with friendships - his former best friend turned out to be a thief, and he must reconcile his feelings about a new boy at school whom the other kids tease. The biggest conflict for Kenny, however, comes at the end of the book. While in Birmingham, Kenny almost drowns, and he also experiences the aftermath of the tragic bombing of a nearby church in which four young girls are killed.
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