The Old Well, Chapel Hill, NC

The Old Well is a symbol of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where most of the novel takes place.

THE MISFITS is the story of three non-conformists—a failing businessman, disbarred psychologist, and philandering financier. Individually, they struggle to keep their lives from unraveling, but together they tackle one of America’s vexing social problems— education.

Zeb Ackerman wants to live a big, meaningful life—not easy for a person with ADHD. His dream—to get a PhD and do groundbreaking research—is extinguished when he recklessly goes off his meds and gets expelled from UNC-Chapel Hill, where both his parents teach. Zeb becomes an adventure tour operator, taking up a profession he deems unworthy. He resolves to make his work purposeful: by driving much-needed ethical reforms in the industry, creating enlightening tours, and uplifting overseas suppliers.

However, irate business rivals sabotage International Expeditions and expose Zeb’s shameful past, threatening his vision and humiliating his family. Nor does Zeb help himself, ignoring the market, lecturing clients, and, finally, estranging his loving wife. Had his lofty ambitions been unrealistic?

Meanwhile, Dr. Kiara Battle, an educational psychologist (and Zeb’s college crush), is floundering herself. In the past, she gave up a spot on the U.S. national soccer team, and left medical school, because overachieving and disproving her doubters became less important. Now she harbors doubts about herself. She’s a world-class diagnostician, but struggles with being nonjudgmental toward patients who aren’t disabled or disadvantaged. Neither can she abide negligent parents of her young patients.

Kiara desperately wants to be a better person. As the daughter of Trinidadian immigrants, and having overcome an auditory processing disorder, scoliosis, and racial profiling, Kiara wonders why she isn’t more empathetic. Kiara’s conduct is putting her livelihood and happiness at risk. Already she’s been suspended once—albeit unfairly—for unprofessional behavior, depriving most of her patients of topnotch care. Now she’s on the verge of losing her license permanently after a patient’s attempted suicide.

Could Leo Bello, the handsome Venezuelan-born financier, rescue Zeb and Kiara from their predicaments? Leo has found that becoming an American, and being successful, haven’t made him happy. In fact, since being assaulted as a teenager, nothing has—not philandering, atoning to those he has hurt, rejecting his homeland, or running for political office.

Leo frets about his masculinity, making his family proud, and repaying America. His vision—to better educate the disenfranchised—relies on recruiting Zeb and Kiara as partners. Problematic after humiliating Zeb at a entrepreneurship panel and rejecting Kiara as a love interest.

THE MISFITS is currently being queried. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates!