Eula, Idaho, is a cluster of steeples, oak trees, and boxlike homes sandwiched between golden fields and a wide-open sky. It has never seen a battle, or an earthquake, or a Democrat in City Hall. Still, life in Eula is anything but simple for Lina and Connie, single mothers and neighbors in Eula’s trailer park who are struggling to raise their teenage sons—angry Jesús, newly returned after living with wealthy white foster parents, and Enrique and Gene, misfits whose mutual love of science offers stability and respite from schoolyard cruelties.
Determined to win the statewide science fair, Enrique and Gene devise an experiment involving “lake overturn,” a real scientific phenomenon in which deadly gases collect and eventually erupt from a lake’s depths. In their quest to discover if Eula could suffer from such an event, the boys come into contact with an odd assortment of locals—a school principal with grand ambitions, a rich but lonely lawyer, and a woman who decides to forget a past of abuse and addiction by becoming a surrogate mother—allowing author Vestal McIntyre to expose small-town America in all its beauty and treachery, sunshine and secrets.