The unbreakable bond forged between a troubled boy and a gorilla forms the basis of this family-oriented children's adventure. Fourteen-year old Rick has become quite rebellious since his father abandoned them. Margaret Heller, his mother, is a behavioral scientist who studies communication with gorillas. She is finding it increasingly difficult to communicate with the sullen, isolated Rick. The story opens just as Rick, who had stolen his mother's van for a joyride, is released from jail. To punish him, Margaret forces him to clean out the animal research lab. Rick is especially loathe to clean out the gorilla cage. In that cage is a gorilla adept at sign language, Katie, whom Rick immediately despises. In time, he and Katie begin conversing, and the two become friends. But then Katie's legal owner, the cruel Gus Charnley, reclaims her and forces her to perform caged up in a carnival act. The degradation of his friend is more than Rick can handle, so he frees her and together they hit the road. Mayhem and adventure ensues until the two end up in court where Katie makes a touching plea on their behalf.