A story of the Amazon and its primitive remote tribes, this book follows two boys of the Takunami tribe. Tirio was born with a bad foot, making him lame. When he is six years old, his mother sets him adrift down the river, essentially he has been ejected from the tribe. Tirio is found by a white research worker who brings Tirio home to Florida with her, and adopts him. Tirio is grateful, and works hard to overcome his disability, learn English, and fit in with his new surroundings, but he can’t forget the jungle, his tribe, and their ways.
Luka is about to turn thirteen, the age at which he must undergo a trial and test to become a man of the tribe. His mother trains him and tests him relentlessly, while neglecting the rest of the family. Why is this so important to her, Luka wonders? Does it have to do with his mysterious father, who he has not been allowed to meet?
Back in Florida, as Tirio’s thirteenth birthday approaches, he feels ever more strongly that he needs to return to his tribe to take part in his own test of manhood. To reinforce this, he seems to be getting mental images and messages from his father encouraging him to come. Tirio and his new mother Sara plan a return to the Amazon where she will take up her research again. Tirio has not told her his plan to return to his tribe because he knows she won’t allow it. Yet, it’s something he has to do. The trials of these two boys are intertwined in surprising ways as they encounter all the dangers of the Amazon river and jungle, from caymans and jaguars on the hunt to hunger and fierce thunderstorms. It’s a well-told story of adventure and discovery.