Born on January 1, 1900, on a family farm in the mountains of North Carolina, Medford McGee grows up awestruck by the rapid changes that blazon the New American Century and the promise of new opportunities that come along with these changes .
This coming of age story takes place in 1944 in rural Arkansas where a twelve year old boy named, Richard has a simple dream: he just wants to buy a red scarf for Rosalie, the prettiest girl in school.
Sable wears only black and has always felt that doom is near. Lacey wears pink and seeks beauty everywhere. A sadistic art teacher pairs Sable and Lacey together for their final project. The girls have to get to know one another and select a suitable poem for the back of each other's decorative mirror. Sable is less than thrilled at having to spend time with Lacey, who she believes to be nothing more than a brainless doll. As the project progresses, and Sable gets past her resentment, she learns some surprising truths about who Lacey really is. All of Sable's images begin to change, including the one she holds of herself.
Emery's neighbor, Richard, is the kind of kid who gets under your skin. When Richard suggests a game of "Nicky Nicky Nine Doors," Emery can't come up with a good excuse not to play. Using chocolate bars as "stunt poo," the boys start playing the classic prank of the burning bag on the doorstep, but this game has a modern twist. They videotape their neighbors' reactions. The naked guy and the man in the apron are highly entertaining, but Emery starts to get cold feet when another neighbor is reduced to tears. Emery wants out, but he's not sure how to stop the game without losing face. Soon the game gets serious, and Emery has a lot more to worry about than his reputation.
When Mike Longridge gets himself in trouble yet again, he is given a choice: juvenile detention or an outdoor program called Explore. He opts for Explore, but soon finds himself wondering how he is going to survive ten months with the hippies and keeners in the program. He's never felt so out of place and is certain he will never get the hang of the outdoor activities. Will Mike go back to his old trouble-making ways or will he finally find a place to belong?
When Renata is chosen to play the lead role in the school musical, students who used to ignore her start saying hello and congratulating her in the hall. She is happy until it becomes evident that Karin, a wealthy girl who expected to get the lead role, will go to great lengths to ruin Renata's reputation.
Sam Campbell's school team, the Laggan Lairds, always loses. When someone suggests that their name be the Laggan Lard Butts, Sam thinks the team should change its name. What is a Laird anyway? The basketball coach agrees, and soon the whole school is involved in an election for a new team name. Sam and his friends nominate the name Lard Butts. When the basketball team starts winning games after a warm-up cheer of "Go Lard Butts!" it seems the Lard Butt campaign might actually win the election.