One Most Important Thing is a contemporary Young Adult novel. Ninth-grader Joey Davidson fears abandonment because his father left the family when Joey was placed on the autism spectrum at age four. Now, his mother is dying of cancer. The summer before ninth-grade, Joey makes his first friends—the Desert Rats, a diverse gang of latch-key, trailer-park boys, each uniquely broken. The lives of Joey and the Desert Rats are complicated by secrets and lies. When elderly drifter Bud moves into the neighborhood, relationships change. One night, Bud's trailer bursts into flames and detectives conclude it's arson and homicide. The investigation compels the boys into life-altering decisions for which they are unprepared.