In 1971, the neatness-obsessed but sharply observant 6-year-old Augusten finds himself trapped between his troubled parents: his mother Deirdre, an unpublished--not to mention unstable--confessional poet with delusions of being hugely famous; and his father Norman, an alcoholic math professor who long ago gave up trying to solve the riddle of his wife's problems or his son's precocious behavior. When the Burroughs' marriage goes to pieces, Deirdre signs up for therapy with the eccentric Dr. Finch, a highly unconventional shrink who takes the family under his wing. From the beginning, Augusten is suspicious of Dr. Finch's peculiarities, but when Dr. Finch fails to save the Burroughs' marriage, Augusten's life takes an even more wrenching turn. While Deirdre is packed off to a motel to continue her Valium-aided therapy, Augusten is sent to live in the Finch family home--a kind of Brady-Bunch-gone-bad world where for some dog kibble is a snack, sedatives are consumed like candy and grand prophecies emerge from the bathroom. Soon Augusten unwittingly becomes part of the family comprised of: the shell-shocked Mrs. Finch, "Bible-dipping" daughter Hope, disco-rebel daughter Natalie and Neil Bookman, the disturbed, 35-year-old, "adopted" son who lives in a shed at the back of the house; along the way Augusten descends into a kind of surreal childhood hell. Yet, he also finds optimism among the horror, hilarity in the insanity and even love amid the dilapidated ruins as he never loses his spirit or his resilience.