Sixteen year old Finn Earl lives with his Swedish massage trained mother Liz Earl in New York City, Finn who wants to get out from under her control in he often needing to be the adult between the two of them. She used to have an above board approach to her work, but has transitioned into doing massage work proverbially advertised in the back of disreputable magazines in order not only to satisfy her sexual needs but support her substance abuse, largely of cocaine and alcohol. Finn had been invited by his biological father, a world famous anthropologist who he's never met, to spend the summer with him in South America where he is currently living among and studying the Ishkanani tribe of peoples. But an incident not only kiboshes Finn's ability to travel abroad but shows Liz that she has to clean up her act for her and Finn's sakes. As such, she is easily able to convince aged Ogden C. Osborne, one of her more adoring non-sexual clients and the seventh richest man in the United States, to hire her to be his personal therapist while she and Finn live in one of his guesthouses at his ten square mile country estate in Vlyvalle, New Jersey for the summer. To make this experience more palatable especially in light of what he hoped was going to be a summer with his father, Finn decides to treat this stay like an anthropological study. In doing so, he interacts with the various people in Osbourne's life, from his family (his widowed daughter whose husband was purportedly shot by poachers on the estate, and her two offspring, young adult Bryce, and late teen Maya) to various servants (such as Jilly, the seventeen year old maid of their guesthouse, and Gates, Osbourne's hand picked sheriff who also works as his personal chauffeur) to some of Osbourne's rich neighbors and colleagues. While ultimately befriending most, even Bryce and Maya despite their socioeconomic differences, Finn may find that this "tribe" is more dangerous than the Ishkanani, who are known as the fierce people.