All of us need a Ralph in our lives. Chicago, 1978. Hank Boyd, a solid B+ student, a good kid, wants eighth grade to be his special year. But when Ralph, an oddball troublemaker who ' s been held back twice, gets the idea that he and Hank are pals, Hank's year devolves into an odyssey as frightening as it is hilarious. John McNally, acclaimed author of Troublemakers, deftly portrays the astonishing, sometimes terrifying world of adolescence in 1970s America: The adult world becomes increasingly untrustworthy, the economy plummets, and families seem to be falling apart, yet the two boys manage to create their own small moments of transcendence. At once wary and full of wonder, Hank and Ralph will win your heart with their outrageous, poignant, and occasionally scary antics -- and they will teach you something about the ties that bind us together, hold us back, and redeem us.