When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly and her brothers and sent to live with their grandmother while their dad is working long hours to pay off the medical bills of her deceased mother, she takes on a summer paper route with her older brother Dare. Introducing herself to all the customers on her route, Reenie is stumped by just one – the reclusive Mr. Marsworth who never answers his doorbell. Determined to get to know the elderly gentleman, she begins leaving letters for him and delights in his sporadic replies. Pouring out her fears that her oldest brother Billy will have to go and fight in Vietnam since the family cannot afford to send him to college, Reenie asks Mr. Marsworth for advice and help in keeping him home, a stance that is very unpopular in their small midwestern town. Told in the parade of letters between Reenie and Mr. Marsworth and those she writes to a young Vietnam soldier pen pal, this book explores the dilemmas of pacifism and patriotism for older elementary readers.