Brent Bishop is 16 years old, Brent attends a party where he is basically humiliated being drunk and driving he has decided that there is nothing to live for . He is about to make a mistake which will haunt him for the rest of his life. Having recently moved to Chicago with his parents, Brent desperately wants to be accepted by the popular group of students at his new high school. However, at an important party, Brent finds humiliation instead of the acceptance that he desires. Desperate to run from his classmates and his shame, Brent races off in his car, fuelled by rage and alcohol. In his despair, Brent impulsively decides to end his pain forever: He closes his eyes and takes his hands off the wheel. Brent does not die on the highway that night, but another innocent driver does–an 18 year old girl named Lea Zamora. Part of Brent’s criminal punishment involves restitution to the family.
He meets with Lea’s grieving mother who would like Brent to extend the memory of Lea’s warmth and smile across the country. Mrs. Zamora’s request requires that Brent accomplish an unusual task: He must replicate Lea’s image on four whirligigs and erect them in the four corners of the United States. Brent accepts the task, and embarks on a mission to build the whirligigs and to rebuild his shattered soul. Brent’s journey is shadowed by the image of himself as someone who has inflicted pain, suffering, and death on strangers. No amount of physical distance can change this fact. Brent’s only chance for restitution and spiritual recovery rests in the completion of his task. As Brent learns how to build the whirligigs, he also learns about the essentials of life; about the importance of one’s decisions and actions; about the gift of existence.