After fourteen-year-old Jamie goes AWOL from his military school in Ohio, he finds himself homeless in Portland, Oregon, hiding from his rigidly conservative military father. There he is known as "Punkzilla" and lives a life filled with meth, crime, and other runaways. When he receives a letter from his older brother, Peter, who is dying of cancer, Jamie risks everything and heads to Memphis to reconnect with him. On the road, Jamie is beaten and mugged at a bus stop, and misses his bus to Memphis. Determined to get to his brother in time, Jamie hitchhikes across the country, meeting a number of interesting characters and having some life-changing experiences along the way.