Stick follows Stark (Stick) McClellan, a thirteen year old boy in the state of Washington, growing up with his older brother Bosten and his two parents. But Stick is different: he only has one ear-the right side of his head is missing an ear. No accident caused this; he was born this way. Stick's life is already hard enough, taking the brunt of cruel jokes and rude behavior at school, but his parents are cold and unfeeling, acting as if his birth was an accident that should never have happened. Only Bosten and Stick's friend Emily stick up for him at all, and Bosten gets all the punishment from their father. Soon, a series of unfortunate and fortunate events throw Stick's life into turmoil, as he begins to experience love, loss, betrayal, and caring from unexpected sources. Eventually, Stick's father learns of Bosten's homosexuality and the boy is driven away, disappearing. Worried, Stick decides to leave his father forever and begins his chase down the West Coast to find his brother.
This book is extremely moving and real. Things like this are likely to happen more than one might think. The book also does a fantastic job of describing the love between brothers and how difficult the lives of in-the-closet teenagers or teenagers with disabilities can be in small, conservative communities.