Mark Laverty never forgot his dad telling him, "You'll never be worth anything" when he was ten years old. Neither did he forget all the times after that when his dad made the same prediction.
Unknown to his dad and even at that young age, Mark is already envisioning what he wants the rest of his life to be like. After graduating from high school, he takes a job at the factory where his dad has worked for so many years. He continues to work there for two years to add to the money he's already saved from doing odd jobs in the neighborhood. Then he says goodbye to his parents and drives out of Akron in an old black Cadillac.
He has no plan as to where he's going or for how long he'll be gone. Acting on a whim, his erratic route takes him south into the Southeast then west and northwest through the middle of America. To help make up for what until then has been a sheltered life, he had eagerly taken advantage of every opportunity to engage with people and to learn from them.
Soon after arriving in Montana, he makes a routine lunch stop. There he meets Cindy, a server in a restaurant owned by her dad, a local rancher.
Mark, instantly attracted to Cindy, stays for two days. Although tempted to stay longer, he decides to continue his adventure. After reaching the Pacific Ocean, he heads south into California and finally to Phoenix where he gets an overwinter factory job to replenish his money supply.
With the arrival of spring, he hits the road again to see more of the country -- the desert southwest, then east into Texas, and north into Colorado and Wyoming. Surrendering to his wish to see Cindy again, he rejoins her to soon find himself involved with her family's financial crisis. The problem stems from her dad's increasing failure to manage three recently opened restaurants. He also has experienced heavy losses on two failed enterprises on the ranch. As a result, the family is in danger of losing the ranch, an unthinkable consequence given the fact the ranch has been in the family for three generations.
Mark desperately wants to help, but given his inexperience, he faces a steep learning curve. At the same time, the feelings between Mark and Cindy become stronger. Their relationship, however, is interrupted by two life changing events, the sudden and unexpected death of his father plus the first payment of a trust that Mark's deceased grandfather had set up for him many years before.
Cindy's reaction to these and other events concerned with saving the family from financial ruin throws Mark into challenges and situations he's never faced. At times, he's strongly tempted to run away and leave it all behind him. Yet, mostly because of his love for Cindy and the compelling need to prove himself, he resists the temptation. He continues to be both physically and mentally tested.
In the end, he's able to look back on having come of age, of becoming a man, of being successful in both personal and business relationships, of being able to not only reach, but also to relish the great American dream.
This is a story about love, sacrifice, devotion, and courage, a story of a young man being faithful to himself, to his morals, to doing good for others.
Indeed, it's those prevailing values that continue to guarantee his success in the years to come.