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Corvus Heller and James Raven are freshly graduated seniors preparing to go to the same university. Although they don't know one another, each of their paths becomes of great significance to the other.Corvus Heller constantly weighs the cost of college tuition with how much the education will actually help him in the real world. While intelligent and capable of succeeding in the college environment, he is hesitant to put his family under financial strain. He is particularly wary to pay Middenburg University, where he likes the psychology program but knows some students treat school as a four-year (or more) vacation, the administration treats it as a profit-driven enterprise, and the focus of the university is more on sports than education.James Raven is an upper-echelon football recruit and driven young man from a rough urban area who has a full-ride scholarship to play football at Middenburg. Bringing the two together is Corvus' insufferable Uncle Pete, head coach of Middenburg's biggest rival, Indiana Central University. Also involved is Vic, a small-time bookie and student at Middenburg who becomes an intriguing influence on Corvus.Corvus and James' first semester involves high-level corruption in college sports, problems with gambling and substance abuse, the remnants of institutional racism at universities, and the tension of being a student and an athlete. While Corvus and Raven's struggles seem very different, they parallel each other in some ways. Both discover how crooked life's path can become when seeking love, friendship, and success on one's own terms.