Eightyearold Horty Bluett has never known love. His adoptive parents are violent; his classmates are cruel. So he runs away from home and joins a carnival. Performing alongside the fireaters, snakemen and little people, Horty is finally accepted. But he is not safe. When he loses three fingers in an accident and they grow back, it becomes clear that Horty is not like other boysand this difference is something that some people might want to use. Now Horty knows that his difference is a risk not only to his own life, but to the lives of the outcasts who have provided him with a place to call home.