Set in a small and tight-knit community of 'honest criminals' in a remote part of Russia, this is a tale of an extreme boyhood - exotic, violent and completely unique. Told from the perspective of a boy gaining his 'education' as a member of the Mafia-like Urkas in Transnistria, we get a glimpse inside the strict codes of honour and the rituals of this bizarre community. Besides having a deep distrust of outsiders - especially the police - the community is split into 'honest' and 'dishonest' criminals and crime is all-pervasive. Even their youngest children are taught to understand violence and when it is appropriate to use it. By the age of six, Nicolai Lilin is given his first 'pike knife' by an uncle and by the age of twelve he has been convicted of attempted murder.