When sheriff Barnum investigates the death of an elderly rural resident, he discovers a teenage grandson living in the basement. Raised by his grandparents, he has experienced the world only through books, never leaving the family farm. He is sent to a state home for boys where he has trouble fitting in socially. His odd appearance and unusual abilities cause the small town residents to fear and ridicule him. However, not all are afraid. Some begin to view his potential and gifts with wonderment.