The summer before kindergarten, Claire and Ryan meet on a tire swing in Maine, and as the week ends, she returns to Georgia, and he stays behind.
Later, as high school comes to a close, Claire writes a valedictorian speech, while, thirteen hundred miles away, Ryan kills for the first time.
After becoming addicted to heroin, he drops out of art school and leaves for San Francisco just as Claire finishes a master’s and accepts a job at the University of Maine teaching poetry.
Now, at twenty-seven, as Maine slips from fall into winter, Ryan returns to his empty home at the end of Ruby Lane to find a dying Claire accompanied by her pot-smoking mother. The romantic reunion turns into much more than either could have expected, however, as a bloody run-in with a factory farm reveals things about Ryan that were better off hidden. After witnessing these events, an expiring Claire is compelled to ask a favor of Ryan he may not be able to give, leading these two sweethearts on a painful journey fraught with love, drugs, and the heart-crushing task of living while dying.