Bryon Douglas and Mark Jennings have been like brothers since childhood but now times are changing. Bryon is growing up and thinking about who he wants to be, but Mark is still living for the thrill of the moment.
The book starts out with their mom being in the hospital. She is Bryon's birth mother, and Mark's adoptive mother. Mark's parents died in an argument with each other when they were both drunk and ended up shooting each other. So Mark and Bryon have to make money to help support the family while their mom is in the hospital getting surgery.
Bryon gets a job at the local supermarket while Mark starts bringing in lots of cash. Bryon doesn't ask where it's from, but eventually discovers that Mark has been getting his money by selling drugs to hippies. Bryon is horrified, since his girlfriend's 13-year-old brother went mad because of someone selling him drugs. Byron calls the police on Mark, loosening their bond. When Mark comes home he tells him that he found the drugs and Mark says that he will stop if it makes Bryon upset. Bryon says it is too late, that he already called the police. Mark is surprised, but does not believe it. The police come and take Mark away to a reformatory. A couple months afterwards Bryon visits Mark, though Mark makes it very clear that he now hates him. Later, Mark acts up frequently and is sent to prison. The title of the book is one of the famous quotes in the book and is used at the end of the story.