Michael is a teenager with a thirst for life, dying to learn as his grandfather is learning to die a slow, painful death from colorectal cancer. Having dabbled in astronomy and veterinary surgery for many years, believing that practice makes perfect, and using his pernicious anaemia injections as a distemper cure for dogs, his grandfather suffers, and in the little time he has left tries to prepare Michael for life without him.
Along with everything else, Michael's girlfriend succumbs to anorexia and is admitted into a hospital psychiatric wing to be "monitored." His father is an alcoholic who insists on wearing his vest and underpants to watch television and at every meal announces, "What's this muck?!"
His best friends and joint members of the school folk band, "Toad Fallout", are Kaiser, who has an IQ of 153 and common sense quotient of zero, and Norbert. Moving from crisis to crisis, Michael then falls in love with a German exchange student.
Will she ease his pain, or is this tale going to end in tears?