The story is about a boy an eleven-year-old boy name Virgil Salinas.
His parents call him Turtle, but he secretly hates it. He has twin brothers, Joselito and Julius and a grandmother Lola. He is different from his family, but his grandmother accepts him for who he is as a person. His grandmother and him have a special relationship; she always knows when something is not fine with him. She even told him that he was her favorite grandson and he is not like his twin brothers. Virgil grandmother is from the Philippines and is always telling him stories about her dreams or her village.
He does not have many friends but what he does have is a guinea pig name Gulliver. He considers his pet a good friend because he could tell Gulliver anything with no feel he is being he judge. At the beginning of the story it starts off at the end of the middle school year. He is feeling like a grand failure because he lost his opportunity to become friends with the girl he likes; Valencia. His shyness is one of the reasons that makes him feel like a grand failure. Valencia is a girl that is semi-deaf but fears that she is going to be alone for the rest of her life.
She does not use sign language but know how to sign the alphabet and read lips. Virgil and Valencia both meet Kaori, a self-proclaimed psychic, for help. On Virgil first appointment with Kaori, she tells tell him that she sees him in a dark place. The vision she received scares him because he is afraid of the dark. He thinks that it is because of the story Lola told him about evil three-headed monkeys that thrived in the darkness.
He believed that darkness was a sightless breast. Valencia discover Kaori business cared in the grocery store. She also makes an appointment but is not sure if she can trust Kaori. Valencia lies to Kaori about her name and gives her a fake name of Renee. Virgil and Valencia both book an appointment on the same day to see Kaori. As he walks through the wood to his appointment he runs into a bully name Chet Bullens.
He is always bullying Virgil at school about his age and not knowing his multiplication table. This time Chet bullying takes it to far. He tosses Virgil’s backpack into a well; not know that the guinea pig, Gulliver, was in the backpack. Virgil could not leave his best friend down in the well, so he put the stones that Kaori ask him to bring on the side of the well and climb in to rescue his guinea pig.
He does the unthinkable and overcome his fear of darkness to save his friend. As he is climbing down the ladder; he notices that the last steps are missing so he jumps into the well. The problem is that he cannot climb out of the well because he cannot reach the last step of the ladder.During his time stuck in the well; Kaori is worried about Virgil not arriving to her house for the appointment; he is known to always be on time. Kaori keeps worrying about when Valencia arrives for her appointment. After Kaori help Valencia figure out that she is afraid of being alone.
Kaori share her worries to Valencia about Virgil and ask her whether she saw him on the way to her appointment She says she did not see him, but she did see the stones that Virgil placed on the side of the well. Valencia decide to help the sister look for him. Before they took off the three girls decide to have lunch.
Valencia was enjoying the feeling of not being alone. They make themselves sandwich and plane out the strategy for the search party. The three girls decide to start at his house to see if he was home. Meanwhile, Virgil is trying his hardest to get out of the well, but the heavy stones of the well are to densely pack to get a good footing to step up and reach for the ladder. When they discover he is not home; they head to perform a ceremony to find lost things. While to are in the woods they run into Chet. Valencia starts to piece together the piece of information and realize that seeing him there makes her remember the stones she saw on the side of the well and realize that Virgil is in the well.
Then the girls go to help recuse Virgil out of the well. After this he think about the changes he wants to achieve. At the end of the story he stands up to Chet and tell his mother to stop calling him Turtle. He also becomes friend with his crush Valencia and she is not alone any more.