Adam's last name is Pelko. He is a fourteen-year-old boy whose father is a naval officer stationed at Pearl Harbor on the USS Arizona during WWII. Adam finds it hard to assimilate into high school in Hawaii but manages to make two good friends in school, Davi Mori and Martin Kahahawai. Davi is Japanese and Martin is Hawaiian.
Adam's father isn't too thrilled about Adam's friendship with Davi as he believes that Japanese-American loyalties would be greatly divided during the imminent war with Japan. In short, Adam's father doesn't trust any Japanese-Americans at all. He tells Adam that theirs is a military family and that Adam needs to remember that whatever he does will reflect on his family and the United States Navy.
When the boys take a rowboat out onto the harbor on the naval base, they are met with a terrifying surprise. Within sight of American battleships docked at the harbor, they have a front row seat to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When Davi waves and cheers while the bombs fall from Japanese airplanes, Adam starts to think that his father may be right after all, and that Davi is a Japanese spy. His anger gets the better of him and he attacks Davi. Martin manages to break up the fight but he is soon wounded when part of their rowboat explodes from the bombing campaign. A splinter of wood is lodged in Martin's chest; Adam and Davi manage to get their friend to shore and to find help for him.
Adam soon becomes part of the war effort when he ends up helping the sailors to recover soldiers from the waters around the harbor and to carry ammunition to the USS West Virginia. He also learns that his father is missing in action. The rest of the novel chronicles Adam's experience in navigating the war as the son of a naval officer, his relationship with his Japanese-American friend, and his maturing views about patriotism and loyalty.