The year is 1945, and after the unexpected death of his mother, thirteen-year-old Jack Baker finds himself navigating life at a boy's boarding school in Maine, a far cry from his home in Kansas. Reeling from his loss, Jack feels like he has lost his bearings in this unfamiliar place. Then he meets Early Auden, a boy unlike any he has ever known. Early always says what's on his mind, is an expert on the number pi, and only listens to Billie Holiday when it's raining. When Jack and Early are left behind at school during a holiday break, the two embark upon a quest to find the Great Appalachian bear, and hopefully, Early's brother, who everyone knows was lost in the war. Along the way, they meet some remarkable characters, many with curious similarities to those in the story of pi told by Early. What starts out as a dubious plan becomes an amazing adventure, where even the impossible can become true.