Fugitives from the American Dream, 10 year old Phillip and his Mom live the outlaw life on the road.
While other kids his age study the old-fashioned way, the precocious Phillip has no need for school: the neon glow of motel signs is light enough by which to read his textbooks on biology and physics - two subjects about which his Mom teaches him a thing or two, as she seduces men out of their credit cards to fuel their crazy flight.
Phillip could live forever in this world of speed and light, so long as Mom is behind the wheel of their Chevy, but Mom begins to feel the gravitational pull of home life and the need to settle down.
After an accident, Phillip wakes up to find himself in the terrifying ground zero of the nuclear family; a suburban house, complete with a father figure - a guy named Pedro who calls him "kiddo" and wants to teach him everything about carpentry and baseball.
Try as he might, Phillip cannot convince his mother of the dangers of domesticity, so he takes matters into his own hands, dispatching Pedro with barbiturate-spiked chili and a power tool. Mother and son hit the road again, but her dream of perpetual motion has run out of gas, this time for good.
Mom rents a house for herself and Phillip, and she drinks herself into a black hole of depression. Phillip finds himself in the unlikely position of head of the family - but not for long. Dad, who was supposed to be just a speck in the rear-view mirror, shows up.
In fact, no matter how far or fast Phillip and Mom run, he is on their tail, waiting to resume his rightful place.
And if that weren't bad enough, Pedro begins to haunt the boy - literally, with unfatherly advice from beyond the grave. Phillip finds himself tempted to escape into reality with friends like Rodney, a sullen boy whose hobbies include petty theft and black magic, and Beatrice, an intellectual trapped in a girl's body.
Normality is not an option, and once again Phillip finds it necessary to take matters into his own hands, no matter what it may cost.