Doug Swieteck is a fourteen-year-old who moves to a new town. His family is originally from Long Island, New York, but they move to Marysville, New York, when his dad loses his job. Being the new kid in the block, he feels out of place.
Moving to a new place is difficult because Doug has a rough life. His father is physically abusive. Since he is the youngest of three sons, the bulk of his dad's anger seems to be directed towards him.
At the start of the story, Doug recounts how his older brother stole a Joe Pepitone Yankees jacket given to him by his friend, Holling Hoodhood.
Doug's two older brothers act aggressive towards him, just like their father. The eldest brother, Lucas, only stops beating him after he is drafted to Vietnam in 1968. The only person who shows care to Doug is his mom. The memory of cruelty and abuse from his father and brothers keep Doug from feeling fully engaged in life.