Set in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, the story chronicles the last true summer of Art Bechstein's youth. Stuck in a dead-end job working for his eccentric sometimes girlfriend Phlox, and forced into an endless series of airless dinners with his mobster father, Art begins to believe that perhaps he doesn't even exist at all. What begins as a mundane summer is quickly interrupted when he encounters a beautiful debutante and her lusty, no good hoodlum of a boyfriend Cleveland. Together they reveal a side of Art and Pittsburgh that he has never known. As the summer boils on and their adventures darken, Art decides to risk everything to preserve his new-found paradise, and thrusts himself headlong into the blurring boundaries of family, friendship and love.