Immediately after the church bombing in Birmingham, Kenny's parents left Grandma Sands's house and returned home. Emotionally, Kenny is devastated from what he saw at the site of the bombing, and he withdraws from his life. Hiding behind the family couch for increasing amounts of time each day, Kenny listens to his family but doesn't participate in their conversations.
Growing up, the space behind the back of the couch had become known as the World-Famous Watson Pet Hospital. When family pets were injured, they eventually found their way to this area in their pain. Some would miraculously recover, and others would die. Kenny comes to believe that this is the space where he will either be magically healed from his grief or will simply disappear. He even begins sleeping there.
Eventually, his older brother Byron figures out where Kenny is spending all his time. At first, he tries to get him to come out, offering to eat cereal with Kenny and watch some TV with him. Kenny halfheartedly joins Byron, but he then retreats to his space behind the couch. One day, Byron gets Kenny to come with him to the bathroom, luring him out with the promise of a great surprise. After proudly showing off a new hair growing on his chin, Byron lets Kenny look in he mirror. When Kenny sees his sad face, he begins sobbing. He cries so hard that he begins to fall, and Byron catches him. Kenny sobs into Byron's lap until he is exhausted, and he apologizes because he knows this is "some real embarrassing stuff."
Kenny finally reveals his confusion about how and why grown white men would want to kill innocent little Black girls. Kenny tells him that he doesn't know but he thinks that hatred has eaten them up and made them "monsters." He reassures Kenny that he is safe and that it's okay that he felt so scared when he saw the aftermath of the bombing. In fact, he insists, Kenny likely saved Joey's life that day and was the only member of their family brave enough to go looking for her. When Kenny hesitates to believe him, Byron grabs his brother's ear and tells him that there are no magical powers which are going to save him behind that couch—and Kenny knows it.
Eventually, Kenny realizes that there is magic all around him, but not in the way Byron imagines. Instead, Kenny sees the magic in the way his father smiles after Kenny has messed up. He sees the magic in his mother's nurturing guidance. He realizes there is magic in his younger sister's tea parties and in the way his older brother makes the "worst thugs in the neighborhood" play basketball with him. This is the magic that will sustain him, and Kenny realizes that he is going to be "all right."