The storyline begins in Mark Hill, Georgia near the end of the Great Depression and follows Henry Jimson’s life to the end of World War Two.
The plot develops an unlikely bonding between an old man and a boy. Old Man, the name he prefers, is a permanent resident of the county home at Mark Hill. Henry, a seventh grader, first encounters him on a class field trip to the home. Old Man intentionally reveals nothing of his past and his true identity remains a mystery until the very end of the book. He is a constant source of wisdom, knowledge and guidance for the boy.