Larry Watson's evocative coming of age story, "American Boy," takes place in the small town of Willow Falls, Minnesota. Matthew Garth, a high school student, is best friends with the son of the local doctor. Matthew's mom is a waitress, and his father is out of the picture. When a local woman is shot by her boyfriend, Matthew and the doctor's son assist his father with the medical treatment. Even heroes aren't perfect, and Matthew learns that everyone has secrets and weaknesses.