This is the heartbreaking story of 15 year old Carl. Carl is an overweight, unimportant kid who just wants to be appreciated.
When his mother, Kerry has been known to take `holidays' on her own without telling the rest of the family and one day she takes a holiday and never comes back so Sarah, being the oldest got sick of looking after them so takes a permanent holiday to Europe and dumps them at Beryl Matt's place at Wattle Beach. But Beryl is not at all maternal or welcoming and after threatening to put the kids in foster care, Carl gets a job on a ferry to provide some financial support to Beryl.
Carl soon learns why he is shunned and hated everywhere. His grandfather ran over Skip Duncan when he was fired. Because of the accident Skip Duncan has been forced to work a barge across from Wattle Beach to Wiseman's Cove but is competing with `Wattle Lady'. He is fighting a losing battle till Carl starts to help him by washing cars on the barge.
The ferry that Carl works on is old and run-down and struggling to compete against a newer ferry doing the same run. Carl works hard on the ferry and comes up with innovative ways to attract business to keep the ferry going. Just when Carl thinks he has found a place where he is appreciated, he discovers an awful family secret that spoils any chance of happiness in his new life.
This is a beautifully told story with a hopeful ending. Poor Carl has to endure so much, especially from his uncaring, manipulative aunt that it is nice to see hope for a happy future. It is a really affecting story that teenagers will enjoy.