John, dumpster-diving adolescent loner—and proud of it!—, is appalled when his mother comes home with a baby girl but no formula or diapers. With the help of the only two adults he trusts, John raises his sister, defies his ruthless grandfather, conceals his own inner wolf, goes to school, makes money, inherits money, and fears change. Will he try to embrace it?—and Alexandra, his only friend? More
John, dumpster-diving adolescent loner—and proud of it!—is appalled when his mother brings home a baby (but no food or diapers). He remembers what his life was like when Jackie wasn’t coping well and reluctantly turns to the only adults he trusts, Eloise, a semi-retired travel writer for whom he does chores, and Sam the Junkman, who buys his dumpster finds.
It works until Descant gets into Jackie’s makeup, and John and Jackie fight. Eloise notices the fresh bruise on his face, and suggests asking Jackie to let them live with her. Jackie agrees but refuses to give up custody.
Staying with Eloise is only a temporary fix—it’s a small house—so Sam offers them an apartment in the building he owns.
At Jackie’s request John and Descant meet Jackie’s trust fund lawyer. A week later, she calls John in a panic. Her father, Alastair, wants to see John. John doesn’t want to go; he didn’t know he had a grandfather. Eloise and Sam persuade him.
Alastair (and his driver/bodyguard, Paul) impress John. He also discovers Jackie has a brother, Murdoch, and eventually gets to know him. He also learns that Alastair is arrogant and ruthless. Not necessarily a bad thing, he thinks, watching his grandfather operate his real estate development business.
Between visits to his grandfather, John’s life in high school seems to be getting more complicated: girls are looking at him! SANDY, his only school friend, explains that John is a man of mystery. She is almost as isolated as he is: she’s too tall, too thin, her parents are divorcing and she’s had to drop track. John tells her about working and taking care of Descant (but not about his wealthy grandfather). She’ll broadcast it to the whole school and he can go back to being anonymous.
John intends to turn down his acceptance to Yale (Alastair’s choice) but Eloise says Descant can move in with her, and Sam will help out, too. Alastair has no idea that John and Descant aren’t living with Jackie.
When Alastair does discover Descant isn’t with Jackie, he sues for custody. John contests Alastair’s guardianship, and asks that Eloise be given custody. The judge agrees.
John comes home to oversee Sam’s properties and works with Rick, Sam’s contractor acquaintance, on a remodeling job. He figures he can manage working part time and going to a local university. Then Sam dies and leaves his properties to John, launching his career as a rising young developer and preservationist. Sandy interviews and photographs him for a freelance article.
Sandy asks John if she can stay with him for a day or two, while hiding from a boyfriend. John ambushes and intimidates RAFAEL, but doesn’t shoot him, as he had intended. John has forgotten to bring a shovel, which would make it difficult to dispose of the body.
John almost makes a romantic move on Sandy but doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. Dating is a problem. One woman tells him he’s too cold and uninvolved, and he has to admit she’s right.
Alastair dies. Murdoch calls to tell John that Jackie is in the local psych ward as a result. He wants John to bully her into long term treatment. John does so, reluctantly. For someone who distrusts family ties, he has acquired a surprising number of human connections.
Alastair leaves John most of his estate. If John refuses, Murdoch will lose his share. They’ll run Alastair’s businesses their way, and defy Alastair’s last attempt to manipulate them.
Jackie, coping well for once, tells John, “Marry someone you won’t hurt by being what you are,” a reference to Alastair’s disastrous choice.
Descant leaves for college and John is alone. Hesitantly, he dials Sandy’s number, to reach out for another connection.