"Lying in the yard, tearing out clumps of grass, watching a jet draw a white line across the sky, I wanted to have a vision or some major introspection, to feel possessed and hallucinatory, to know, if only for a moment, that God really existed." So begins this offbeat chronicle of Chrissie Swanson's last few months of high school, which finds unexpected drama and surprising beauty in a nowhere-special middle-American town. In the tone of confused brilliance unique to precocious seventeen-year-olds, it tells the story of a girl who knows there must be more to life than hanging out and getting high. But like teenagers everywhere, Chrissie doesn't know what it is, where to find it, or whether she even wants it anyway. Her brother's a junkie, her best friend's sex-crazed, and her mom's about to marry a loser with a gambling jones. Chrissie's own long-term goals are limited: to snag the cute local mechanic and escape a gang of football jocks with mayhem in mind. As she, her friends, and her family struggle to understand each other, Downers Grove paints a searing portrait of the real America -- and the odd, moving moments that redeem even the most imperfect lives.