Two 14 year old boys discover a boat suspended in the trees on an island on the Mississippi River, an old remnant of a flood from the past. As they sneak up to the boat to discover that someone has recently occupied the boat and actually live there. As they leave, the bump into Mud, who they find out later is a fugitive. Mud is disheveled and hungry, and offers his makeshift houseboat in exchange for food. The boys reluctantly agree and bring food to Mud, and eventually form a bond. They learn that Mud has killed a man in Texas and is on the run from bounty hunters, but longs to be reunited with his love, Juniper. The boys scheme to reunite the lovers and learn about the realities, risks, and heartbreak of love.