1978. Fourteen year old Augusten Burroughs narrates the story of his love/hate relationship with his mother, Deirdre Burroughs. As a child, Augusten loved and wanted to be like his theatrical acting mother, who aspires to be a famous writer, with her person being more renowned than her writing. She is critical of writers in general while not achieving that wanted fame because of not being a gifted enough a writer. Her writing is fueled largely by her manic depression. Augusten's now divorced parents had a turbulent relationship, his alcoholic father, Norman Burroughs, who is now largely out of his life by Norm's own choice. To deal with her mental issues, Deirdre has been seeing therapist Dr. Finch, whose actions are largely motivated by a singular issue. Out of circumstance, Augusten strikes a relationship with Dr. Finch's disparate but completely eccentric family: his quietly nervous wife, Agnes Finch; religiously fanatic eldest daughter Hope; rebellious younger daughter Natalie; and thirty-five year old recently adopted son Neil Bookman, who was and still is one of his patients. In Norm's self-imposed abandonment and Deirdre's own dealings with her unstable mental state, Augusten reluctantly finds in the Finches a surrogate family, far from the "normal" family within which he dreams for himself. But in his relationship with the Finches, Augusten will learn where he wants his mother to fit in his life, and what he has to do for himself to have the life he wants given the cards he was dealt. He will also find that he has a kindred soul who was not obvious to him at first glance.