Tom is in a lot of emotional pain and has attempted to push away every person in his life, including his friends, various family members, and his one-and-a-half night stand who he actually really likes. He had attempted to hide from his pain by drinking and doing drugs and living with people who did the same.
Now he's living with his Aunt Georgie, who is dealing with her own difficulties due to the fact that she's pregnant and has a complicated relationship with the father-to-be. His mother and sister left home to live somewhere else and had offered Tom a place with them, but he refused in order to stay with his drunkard father who eventually left as well. On top of all that, his favorite uncle had recently died. Tom's friends are all mad at him for how he's treated him but are still around, and constantly give him a hard time.
He writes emails to his sister and Tara (the one-night stand mentioned above!), though the latter is also extremely angry with Tom and most of her letters back are somewhat scathing. This book was complicated and beautifully written. Tom isn't the most likable character in the world yet Marchetta managed to make me feel sympathetic towards him. Tom shares his PoV chapters with Georgie, who was also an interesting character to read about.