George Gattling is a man who is a little out of place in the world and a little out of place in his own skin. George's salvation is his autistic nephew Fred, whom George has raised like a son. Together they dream of capturing and taming the most majestic creature in the world--a wild hawk. It is an ancient art that requires precision and extremes--for it is only through practically killing yourself and the bird are you brought together. When Fred is killed in a freak accident, George is more determined than ever to tame a hawk as a tribute to Fred and as a way to work through his own grief. However, to the rest of the world, it appears George has gone mad. It is Betty, a young college student, who is the only one who comes to understand George and his need to take himself to the bottom in order to really be saved.
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