Jesse and Aaron are brothers in their twenties, living on the family farm. It's not remote back-blocks, but it's still heartland rural. Jesse is a troubled, difficult, sometimes violent lad, always messing up and embarrassing his parents. Aaron's more sensible. He's marrying Carly in the local church, and they're planning their honeymoon in Fiji.
One day out duck shooting the boys accidentally bring down an albatross. It's badly wounded, and the dilemma of what to do with the injured bird - and the consequences - becomes the central feature of the novel. As the reader we know all about The Ancient Mariner and the sailors' curse, but the boys don't seem to and it's never referred to.