Despite the various challenges that beset thirteen-year-old Tom Ferry—an alcoholic step-father who doesn’t care for him, brutal town bullies, and poverty—he manages to lead a reasonably happy life until the day when he and his four-year-old brother are lost in the woods. Search parties fruitlessly roam the region, searching for the brothers; days later, a hurt and shocked Tom appears, his memory of events fragmented and clouded. The town is further rocked when teenager Darcy Steele is found dead in Sydney, apparently having committed suicide.
His world torn apart, Tom is at a loss. Everyone else believes that Flynn is dead, and some residents of Angel Rock even wonder if Tom is in some way culpable. Tom is helped in his attempts to understand what has happened by local police constable Pop Mather and his daughter Grace, a few years older than Tom and a friend of Darcy Steele. His quest is aided even further by the appearance of Gibson, a driven police detective who feels that Darcy Steele’s suicide must be related to the disappearance of Flynn.
As Tom, Grace, and Pop try to puzzle out what has happened and how to go on with their lives, Gibson begins to dig up the past of Angel Rock, sure that the answer to the recent tragic events is buried there. As the plot weaves back and forth between Gibson and Tom and Grace as they deal with Darcy’s brother, the bully Sonny Steele, and with deranged Billy Flood, who just might hold the answers to Flynn’s disappearance, the reader becomes ever more sure that part of what they’re seeking is innocence lost—how to hold onto it, how to regain it.