With both parents in a National Guard unit sent to fight in Iraq, 16-year-old Heddi must live in a rural commune with her childless aunt. She has lost everything familiar except her beloved dog, Max. And then Plum Creek Community doesn’t want him. Worse, her aunt and the members of Plum Creek are the kind of people Heddi most despises: anti-war liberals! Heddi fights back with spirit and determination, but puts herself and others in danger by taking up with an older classmate suspected of belonging to an armed militia.
Compounding her troubles, her wounded father is sent home with PTSD, and is now nothing like the father she knew. Her mother remains at risk in Iraq.Athena, another teen member of Plum Creek, narrates Heddi’s story. Having grown up with a totally different view of war, she struggles to understand her new friend’s perspective. She comes to admire Heddi’s spunk, in contrast to her own “goody goody” tendencies. Heddi’s primary adversary is Mockingbird, a precocious 15-year-old in the commune, who is determined to prove to Heddi that the beliefs she clings to most passionately are false.
Grinder is about teens stuck with each other for a year out in the sticks of Iowa, who stretch beyond their opposing worlds to rebuild the crumbling foundations of Heddi’s life.