In the dickeyville area of Baltimore, five young friends meet and bond. They form a group they compare to the five points of a starfish. Composing the group are Gwen, the Halloran brothers, Sean, Tim and Go Go, and the other girl in the group, Mickey Wyckoff.
They lived in a quiet middle-class neighborhood where their parents didn't feel that they had to monitor their activities.
The story moves from events in the late 1970s to current time.
In the current time, Gwen returns to her childhood home to care for her elderly father who had taken a fall. She meets Sean who tells her that his youngest brother, Go Go, has died from suicide.
We are told of the character's lives since they were teenagers. Gwen is married to a successful surgeon but doesn't know if she wants to live in a home where her husband is the only thing that matters.
In 1978, the friends often played in Leaken Park and while exploring, came upon an abandoned cabin that was currently used by a homeless man. Because the man had a number of chickens, they referred to him as Chicken George. They became casual friends and the man was often gone for long periods.
The next summer, Sean and Gwen were dating. One day Mickey and Go Go were at the cabin and become involved in something with Chicken George.
We learn that there are different sides to this story and that the children and their parents made it their secret.
The story is told in a leisurely pace to match the uncomplicated lives that characters had.
The novel is entertaining with good character development as the teenagers and their parents deal with the incident that changed their lives. It all leaves the reader saddened that the innocence of childhood is such a fleeting thing.