Xing (pronounced Shing) is a Chinese teenager in an all-American white school. There is only one other Chinese pupil, a girl named Naomi, whose name, beauty and apparent ease with fitting in make her far more accepted at school than the introverted, bullied and lonely Xing. Since the death of Xing's father, his mother has had to work two jobs and Xing is ostensibly left to care for himself. He spends his days at school attempting to avoid (not always successfully) beatings from gangs of bullies, and his nights at home alone in his bedroom dreaming of China and longing to return. Resigned for now to his lonely life, the appearance of another 'outsider' at the school has repercussions for Xing's life that he could never have imagined. When young boys start to disappear and later turn up brutally murdered, a set of extraordinary circumstances are going to put Xing right at the heart of suspicion.
Despite its setting, this isn't a young adult book. At times the descriptive prose is beautiful, and the story of young Xing's struggle against prejudice and desire for acceptance is haunting. Ultimately, the conclusion of Xing's story is harrowing to the core.