Palmer LaRue is running out of birthdays. For as long as he can remember, he's dreaded the day he turns ten the day he'll take his place beside all the other ten-year-old boys in town, the day he'll be a wringer. But Palmer doesn't want to be a wringer. It's one of the first things he learned about himself and it's one of the biggest things he has to hide. In Palmer's town being a wringer is an honor, a tradition passed down from father to son. Palmer can't stop himself from being a wringer just like he can't stop himself from growing one year older, just like he can't stand up to a whole town right? Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli's most powerful novel yet is a gripping tale of how one boy learns how not to be afraid.
Palmer is in heaven. He has reached the age of nine and the local gang members have deigned to come to his birthday party. After the "Treatment," Palmer changes and even joins the taunting of his younger neighbor Dorothy. Through it all, Palmer worries about become a Wringer. At the age of ten, boys in the town help out at the pigeon shoot by wringing the necks of the wounded birds. To make matters worse, Palmer befriends a pigeon that becomes his pet. He must keep its presence hidden from the gang and his family. Only Dorothy shares his secret. The story moves at a fast pace and the tension never lets up. Palmer's final epiphany is a welcome relief.