It is the late 1970s in Lake Tomahawk, a sleepy desert town in Southern California. Yet all is not at rest. The world of sixteen-year-old Sal Frisco turns upside down when his father abruptly leaves the family. Sal, already in a tug of war with God, grapples with faith as his family slips out of reach--and his skateboarding dream diminishes.
His best friend Jimmy McFarland, along with his dad, encourage Sal to remain grounded, to believe. Mr. McFarland offers an after-school job at his hardware store to Sal. It's there that Jimmy and Sal form an unbreakable bond.
Meanwhile, despite Sal's efforts, his dad shows no signs of resuming fatherhood. Sal suspects he may be in alliance with the newly arrived mysterious neighbors, Ms. Mars and her teenage daughter Julie. Afraid to confess his fears to Jimmy, Sal finds a listening ear in Penelope, a Lake Tomahawk High girl who herself struggles with belief--in anything, including herself. Her desperate grab for popularity fuels in Sal the same, and his focus shifts from God to the world.
When an influential outsider passes through town and takes note of Sal's skateboarding ability, Sal seizes the opportunity. He flies high in a Southern California culture drenched in a newly liberated skateboard and surfing scene kissed by Hollywood. Convinced he can make his own way in the world, Sal leaves his past behind.
But the past has a way of catching up. When he finds himself in Santa Cruz with everything yet nothing, Sal surrenders. In a courageous act, he breaks the chains and runs toward reconciliation with his faith and all he left behind.