When most middle-class families are moving from cities to suburbs in the early 1960s, twelve-year-old Jackie Dunn and his family are forced to leave tranquil Marin County and move to Fog Town, a harsh working-class neighborhood in San Francisco. Jackie, highly intelligent and mature for his age, hates his new surroundings and is soon confronted by three dangerous thugs. Tension between Jackie and the thugs escalates to a point where they trap Jackie in an abandoned house and set it afire. In an attempt to escape, Jackie pummels one of the thugs, sending him to his apparent death in the flames. Was it self-defense? Or an intentional slaying? Jackie's not sure. He struggles with this conflict through his teen years while at war with the surviving thugs. Jackie develops character as he rises above and leaves Fog Town to move into the Haight-Ashbury during its famous Summer of Love in 1967. Jackie then receives a draft notice and must decide whether he will expose himself to further killing, this time in Vietnam, or not.