On Trout Moseley's 16th birthday, his father, Rev. Joe Pike Moseley, a 300-pound Georgia minister, bolts from the Easter Sunday service, jumps on a motorcycle, and rides off to Texas. For Trout, it's the latest in a series of calamities that began when his mother, Irene, was hospitalized for severe depression. In an attempt to save his ministry, Joe Pike is brought back from Texas and is assigned to a church in his hometown of Moseley, Georgia—founded by his family years ago and a place he has been trying to escape for most of his life. And thus begins an eventful summer for Trout. His Aunt Alma (Joe Pike's sister) keeps reminding him of the burden of his family history—what it means to be a Moseley in Moseley—and Joe Pike agonizes through an acute case of theological angst. Trout's Uncle Cicero provides down-to-earth counsel ("When all hell breaks loose, save your own ass."), but Trout feels adrift, trying, at 16, to figure out who he is while everything around him seems to be coming unhinged. He finds refuge in a job at the local Dairy Queen, where his evolving relationship with Keats Dubarry, the crippled daughter of a bitter textile mill activist, begins to provide some stability in his increasingly chaotic world. Eventually, all hell does break loose and Trout must find a way to save himself, become his own person, and move on with his life.
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