When Shara Shinnok moves to Harrison Creek, Oregon from San Francisco, California, she has no idea that she would be involved in a mystery.
At the same time, Mara Llewellyn, Stuart Greer, and Irene Haughton are dealing with the disappearance of their friend/ringleader, Taylor Parker, when she disappeared the night before their middle school promotion. But before they could properly mourn, cryptic messages being are tossed at them, claiming that Taylor was kidnapped and no one (not even the police)is to look for her, save for them. The people living in Harrison Creek despise Taylor because of her imagined mental disability and how she seemed to stop bullies in their tracks.
When Shara comes to Harrison Creek, she reluctantly befriends Mara, Stuart, and Irene, who each are having their own problems. Mara (a nerd who is obsessed with technology) once lived in the trailer parks outside the city until she was forced to move to a "nicer" apartment. Stuart (an anarchist hell-bent on returning to his homeland of Tibet, or so he thinks) misbehaves so much that he's removed from his foster family and forced to live with a White family. Irene (who is richer than almost everyone in the city) busies herself with researching the life of their friend Pearl Tanner, who is known as "Pearl the Alien" to the citizens of Harrison Creek. And Pearl must deal with being ahead of her entire age group, as she's starting high school at age 10.
On top of that, the Summer of 2010 is the worst summer of their lives, as the kids are separated and Shara must deal with Taylor's unwanted legacy. Plus with false identities, bullies, and secrets, the kids must reunite with each other and join forces with Shara to find Taylor and solve the mystery of her disappearance.