All thirteen-year old Nita Simmons has ever wanted is to be a journalist, but when she flubs a piece for her middle school newspaper she becomes a laughingstock at school and risks losing her coveted membership to the Junior Journalists Club. Nita's confidence is at an all-time low when Earl Melvin, her reclusive neighbor and the town's most notorious criminal--picks that day to speak to her. Mr. Melvin offers Nita a story--some old books he refers to as his memoirs. Nita can't help but read the books, and what she finds is not violence but a tale of secret love and heartbreak in the Virginia back roads. Still dealing with her recent failure, Nita can't believe that no one's ever questioned such injustice in her own town. Sensing redemption, she dives into the research, getting to know the neighbor her mother warned her about.