Brent causes a car accident which kills a girl. He agrees to the suggestion made by the girl's mother as a repayment for the girl's life. The mother has asked that Brent travel to the four corners of the United States and build a whirligig which displays her daughter's face. A whirligig is a contraption that has moving parts which move with the wind--it may or may not be designed to act also as a sort of windchime.
Brent changes dramatically from a selfish and self-centered young man to a young man who is re-evaluating his priorities as he travels, meets strangers, builds whirligigs, and thinks about his life. The reader goes through this change with him, making this book a truly unforgettable piece of literature.