"The Queen. Of England. I read that last year she looked back on the year before, the one with Princess Diana and Charles separating, the fire and stuff, and said it was her 'annus horribilis.'
"I like that because it not only sounds somewhat anatomically funny but it describes precisely in perfect Latin my annus horribilis. This year. This annus, which has not been funny at all. The horribilis that happened was partly my fault, I guess...."
So begins Christopher's story of a fateful year in his life.
Academically gifted, Christopher has been accelerated into Watson High School, a pretentious and treacherous place. As the youngest boy in the entire school, Christopher is a target of bullying by a group of vapid but vicious teenage girls.
When his mother goes missing and his father is suspected of murder, Christopher draws closer to a sympathetic and darkly beautiful young English teacher. Scandal ignites, bringing to boil a poisonous brew of racism, old rivalries, and small-town provincialism.
At its core, this tense and touching tale is about the perilous search for understanding and love in the crucible of adolescence.