11-year-old Fern lives about a mile outside Colter, a small Michigan town, with her step-dad and two younger siblings. Her mom and youngest sibling were killed in a car crash, but as Fern says, it’s a “really sad story, but everybody has one, and lots of times somebody important in the tale is dead.” Mr. Flores, the young science teacher, is in charge of helping the students prepare STEM projects for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fair, and Fern hasn’t started hers even though the fair is in two weeks. Luckily, she is inspired by the threat of destruction that clouds the skies over the woods near her house. Fern’s family is poor, or “cash-strapped” as her step-dad likes to say, so she forages for wild food on a regular basis. When a fracking project plans to put the wastewater pond right in those woods, as well as cut down many of the trees, Fern decides to catalog the plants, roots, nuts and mushrooms and that becomes her STEM project. Fern grows up along the way, and the controversial issue of fracking forms the backdrop for this modern story about poverty, environmental protection, and family.