The Thompson family cannot avoid Old Norm. He is wealthy, brash, insulting, and occasionally ostentatiously generous. Most people ignore his conduct. The Thompsons cannot. The story winds its way through war, a wedding, a funeral, an out-of-the-way tavern, a small college, and an undiscovered crime. The family's youngest son narrates. As he matures, he watches family members contend with Old Norm's persistent insolence, while he learns that people are connected in ways that are hard to imagine.