A song of heat, grief and a sensitive boy's obsession with undoing the damage done . . .
'I'm coming up to my ninth birthday. It's the spring of 1978. Our kilometre dial has clocked into thousands and started its cycle over and over again . . . Our car must keep going, always.'
This is Jean-Pio's boyhood, traversing Europe from Italy to France to Germany to England as his scientist father attends medical conference after medical conference. Stuck in the back seat of the family Volvo, sandwiched between his two brothers, his mother growing increasingly frenetic and agitated in the front, Jean-Pio thinks he can make everything all right; if he concentrates hard enough they won't crash and if he keeps track of when the petrol light will come on, they won't be abandoned miles from anywhere without gas.
But nothing seems to make sense. And Jean-Pio can't seem to control all the events around him. He can't, for example, save the lives of the thousands of tadpoles he sees dying out of water. And he couldn't save the life of his grandfather, Grand-Maurice, who drowned two years ago.
And it is to his house that they turn, exhausted from a life of constantly travelling, to revive the family home from the ravages of nature and to try to revive their desperately grieving grandmother with it. In that house and neighbourhood, both heavy with tragedy, Jean-Pio tries to bear the burden of his sadness alone and comes to learn things about his grandfather's death that he just cannot comprehend.