Attending a New England summer camp, young Eric Schroder - a first-generation East German immigrant - adopts the last name Kennedy to more easily fit in, a fateful white lie that will set him on an improbable and ultimately tragic course. Schroder relates the story of Eric's urgent escape years later to Lake Champlain, Vermont, with his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, in an attempt to outrun the authorities amid a heated custody battle with his wife, who will soon discover that her husband is not who he says he is. From a correctional facility, Eric surveys the course of his life to understand - and maybe even explain - his behavior.
The external lives of Clark, a high school guidance counselor, and Charlotte, a bookkeeper, are utterly ordinary, but their interior lives are as bold and complex as abstract paintings colored by imagined possibilities, childhood joys and, more darkly, by deeply buried fears. When Clark rescues a young boy from drowning, a chain of events - some comic, some harrowing - is set in motion, revealing the fault lines of the couple's marriage and individual psyches.