Sometimes what you need most is childlike faith . . . or a bit of magic.
Not even Abel Shifflett knows what exactly convinced him to lash out at Chris Jones, the bully who has tormented him for years. Perhaps the taunts of his childhood disease became too much, or the name calling that never stops. Regardless, Abel’s revenge fails miserably. Chris promises murder, and Abel believes him.
Partly as punishment and partly as a ploy for charity, Abel’s mother takes him into Mattingly’s hill country where a visiting preacher has come to display his powers of healing. His encounter with Abel after the service is full of magic and wonder, leading the following day to Abel’s discovery of letters written by a father he has long believed dead. A father who lives in a town called Fairhope, and who warns Abel he is in danger.
Desperate to find the father he’s always longed for, Abel decides to run away. Accompanied by Willie—Abel’s adult friend who is mentally disabled but extremely protective of him—their attempt to jump on one of the trains that passes through town is ill-fated from the start. Nothing is as it seems with the old man in a fedora who’s already on the train . . . but they don’t have any choice but to accept his offer of help. They keep searching, hoping that some small magic will lead Abel to the home he's always longed for.