The main characters in The Pinballs are a girl (Carlie) and two boys (Harvey and Thomas J). The kids are in foster care for various reasons. They have been moved from foster home to foster home and they feel that there is no place that they really belong. Thomas J is there because the two elderly women who found and raised him are both ill and in the hospital. Harvey is there because his mother abandoned him. Then his father ran over his legs with the car when he was drunk. Harvey is in a wheelchair. Carlie has been in foster homes for years and has a bit of an attitude about it. She acts like she doesn't care about anything, but she is actually very lonely and just wants to belong somewhere. However, she is scared and so she actually pushes people away with the way she approaches them.