This was a difficult book for me to read, because the author sets it up in a way that makes you feel that one of the main characters is not going to make it through to the end. The story takes place over a summer, and centers on three men who are working together to build a stunt ramp. The ramp is supposed to launch a motorcycle rider across a tremendous gorge. As much work and expertise as they are putting into it, the men aren't really sure that it will be enough to actually get the motorcycle all they way across.
The three main characters are Darwin, Art, and Ronnie, and they really only know each other as of this job. Darwin is in charge, and he hires Art and Ronnie from a job site, where they have recently met. He drives them out to a camp at the edge of the gorge in the middle of nowhere, Idaho. Art is an experienced engineer and builder, while Ronnie has only done a job or two since getting out of juvie. They all have a past that is trying to eat at them, while they have all come out to this job site to get away from that past.
The feeling of impending doom does not really let up throughout the novel, although it is difficult to say what actually creates that feeling. Carlson does a good job telling the men's stories, interweaving them with the present time. We are left wondering what happens to them after the summer is over, although Carlson does give you an idea of the direction they move their lives in. He creates characters that you care about, and you want this summer to have been a turning point for them; it becomes the story of a summer that moves them on to the next thing in their lives.