Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee tells the story of Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee, an orphan.
The story begins with Maniac's parents dying in a trolley accident, which forces him to move in with his aunt and uncle. His aunt and uncle fight often, and this causes Maniac to run away from home.
After running away, Maniac finds himself in the town of Two Mills. While trying to simply survive, Maniac completes many feats that turn him into a legend. Some of these feats include catching a football one-handed, untangling Cobble's Knot, running on railroad ties, hitting a pitch from John McNab, going into Finsterwald's yard, and most importantly, crossing over from the West to East Ends and vice versa.
Many of the feats that Maniac completes are related to sports such as football, baseball, and running, while others are related to social issues. The people of Two Mills are astonished at the things that Jeffrey does and give him the nickname of Maniac. They help him become a legend in the town.