It s been two months now since Travis s family moved from their shabby old house to a development so new that it seems totally unreal. There s one place, though, where Travis can connect with his old life: the Salinas library. He and his parents used to go there together every Saturday, but now he bikes to it alone, re-reading his favorite old books. It s only natural that Travis likes the work of John Steinbeck after all, Salinas is Steinbeck s hometown. But that can t explain why Travis is suddenly seeing Steinbeck s characters spring to life. There s the homeless man in the alley behind the library, the boy who writes by night in an attic bedroom. Travis has met them all before as a reader. But why are they here, and how? As Travis struggles to solve this mystery, budget cuts threaten his library. In looking for a way to save his safe haven, he begins to sort out fact from fiction and stumbles into a story Steinbeck might have started, and Travis needs to complete. Here is a mystery that delves deeply into the ways that books take us, one at a time, out into the vast world."