In 1954 after two years in a home for boys, Snit Mandolin, 15, returns home to his seemingly unhinged and reclusive aunt Matilda. Defeated by a community that still shuns him, confronted by the impossibility of surviving on his aunt's farm, Snit falls in with Johnny Swift, 16, another outcast. Johnny makes moonshine and sells it through a local bootlegger. The boys work together and become fast friends. And Snit finds first love with a free-spirited local girl, Robin, 16. Their adventure is interrupted by the enigmatic and unpredictable Roy Kane, the district's private cop, who took Snit away two years ago and will now use the boys to get to the bootlegger. Dogged by Kane, betrayed by a bootlegger and plagued by the ghosts of the past, the boys' partnership ends - their friendship broken. Alone once more in the community that rejected him, Snit comes to a violent crossroads.