Ethan Wate is sixteen years old, living in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina where his family has lived for centuries, and having a very tough year. His mom was killed in a car accident a few months ago, and his father, a writer and, like Ethan's mother, a former history professor, has retreated into his study and emerges only to eat and shower. If not for Amma, their housekeeper who has always been a second mother to him, Ethan would be alone.
He doesn't really fit in at school, either, with only his basketball skill giving this bookish, thoughtful kid a social toehold.
And lately, he's been having weird dreams about a beautiful girl he's never met.