The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's -- a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants.. In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw. Gentle, poignant and richly autobiographical, this delightful novel shows us the boy becoming the man in a world that even in the midst of war, appears sweeter, safer and more livable than out own.