Set in 1951, Logan Lerman plays Marcus Messner, an incoming Jewish college transfer at Ohio's small but prestigious Winesberg College during a time when many of his friends are fighting in the Korean War. He must overcome the influence of his overprotective parents from his home town of Newark, New Jersey, and the powers that be at the school in order to try to be his own person, with his own beliefs, and sense of autonomy he's never been given before. The sheltered lad ends up dating a non-conformist classmate named Olivia Hutton, whose struggles with her own sanity has been a challenge, but to whom he can't help but be drawn to. It soon becomes a trying time for Marcus at his new school, with sexual confusion, loud and intrusive roommates, controlling parents, and Dean Hawes Caudwell, the school administrator who doesn't take kindly to Marcus's inability to assimilate properly to the environment of the conservative school. Indignation ensues.