Leo is in a museum in New York City when a terrorist sets off a bomb. Alive but stunned, Leo comforts a dying man who gives him a ring with instructions where to take it, and then he grabs a valuable painting of a goldfinch and makes his way out of the museum and home. His mother has died in the bombing, and his life from then on revolves around the painting, the girl Pippa who alerted him to the bomb, Pippa's uncle Hobie who takes in Teo and teaches him to restore antiques, and Boris who is just bad news. This is the story of the power of great artworks to grab you soul and not let go. It is also a powerful reminder of the plight of children who lose their parents, or whose parents don't care for them.