T.S. Spivet is a genius mapmaker who lives on a ranch in Montana. His father is a silent cowboy and his mother is a scientist who for the last twenty years has been looking for a mythical species of beetle.
His brother has gone, his sister seems normal but might not be, and his dog - Verywell - is going mad. T.S. makes sense of it all by drawing beautiful, meticulous maps kept in innumerable colour-coded notebooks.
He is brilliant, and the Smithsonian Institution agrees, though when they award him a major scientific prize they don't suspect for a moment that he is twelve years old. So begins T.S.'s life-changing adventure, travelling two thousand miles across America to reach the awards dinner, the secret-society membership and the TV interviews that beckon. But is this what he wants? Do maps and lists explain the world? And why are adults so strange?