Twelve-year-old May is living in a desolate situation with only her grandmother, who is depressed about the absence of May's mother, and her father, who works long hours and is almost never around. May resents both her situation and the fact that she has to live in a low-income neighbourhood. As a result, she often finds herself picking fights and getting into trouble. But when May is caught graffiti-ing her least favourite teacher's classroom, she is faced with a choice: expulsion or one-on-one summer school with the teacher she most detests. Begrudgingly, May chooses summer school and ultimately learns that her teacher has a secret past--and might just hold the key to answers no one else will give May about her mother.