Martin’s parents are off to tour Britain and France. Martin is stuck with his Uncle Chick in Maine. Uncle Chick is gay.
While Martin’s parents pitch up in tents or hostels designed for younger people, Martin will reside at Tether’s End, a Maine camp five hours from home. He’s been abandoned; secrets are being kept; he worries for his parents’ marriage.
Uncle Chick proves a tolerant, interesting fellow, but Suzy from the next camp over says Chick is gay. Gay? Age nine, Martin’s not sure what gay means, or why Suzy thinks it’s bad. At the more worldly age of eleven, Suzy knows how a man and woman can make a child together, a child like her, and knows first hand that parents may not wait around to watch their children grow.
Into this mix drives Chick’s wealthy long-time partner, accompanied by a ‘nephew’ of his own, an androgynous exchange student. With the gayness at Tether’s End increasingly at social and physical odds with Suzy’s camp, a gun is fired. No one is killed, but the two camps sullenly retreat from each other and, well before schedule, Martin must leave to reunite with his parents. The story ends with him nearly come of age, in a more secure nuclear family.