** spoiler alert **
Brent Bishop is just trying to fit in. He desperately wants to be popular and liked by his peers. When he is publicly rejected by a girl at a party, he drives home upset and drunk and tries to kill himself. Instead, he ends up killing a fellow teen named Lea. In penance he must travel to the four corners of the US and put up whirligigs that he creates in her likeness. The story is really about his journey around the country, the people he meets, the lives he influences, and the changes that occur in him. He gradually shifts his value system, coming to care more about other people, knowledge, and being true to himself than about popularity and maintaining appearances. Several chapters of the book are narrated by secondary characters who are inspired by Brent's whirligigs even though he doesn't know about them. It's a beautiful novel about redemption, and about finding happiness through having a good value system. It's definitely unexpected and unusual, but it's an easy book to read, and the message is powerful and important. I really enjoyed this book.