Meet Jerry Mathers, who, though resembling the middle-aged "Beaver," bears no other relation, having been born in the 1970s when that illusion of American life was almost a decade dead. His mother, widowed by the Vietnam War, endured many years as a Woolworth's clerk to bring Jerry up in a "nice neighborhood," enabling him to go to college and fulfill his dreams of being an artist... at least thus far sufficient enough to still believe in them.However, the present is 2013, and Jerry finds himself 39, still only an underpaid teacher of Art at a private school in Oakland, California, his dreams apparently slipping away... as his mother is also slipping away in a nursing home he can't afford. And, resolving years before that the road to romance was closed to him -- perhaps by a long-fallen bridge -- he faces a dark and lonely future.His fifteenth year of teaching begins, as have all his others, in a gloomy Victorian mansion bequeathed for the education of youth by Miss Minerva Morrison, who passed away in 1901 at the age of 97, and whose portrait hangs in the shadowy foyer. By film and ghost story stereotypes the huge house looks like it should be haunted, but though there have been "sightings" -- presumably of Miss Morrison's ghost -- Jerry has never been haunted... at least until this year.But why? Could it be that one of his new students, a remarkable boy named Gabriel Graves, divinely gifted in drawing from life and able to see the souls of his subjects -- but also the first black youth to ever enroll in the school -- has awakened a sleeping racial hatred from over a hundred years in the past? A hatred that may be deadly to both teacher and student.