The author, Mark Mathabane, recalls the events that propelled him into school at age seven. At first, the young Mathabane agrees with a gang of older street kids that school is a waste of time. Early one morning, his mother pulls him out of bed, bathes him and drags him to school against his will. On the way, they come across a woman who tells them the story of her oldest son who refused to go to school, joined a gang, and was stabbed to death. When his mother is beaten by his alcoholic father for putting him in school, he begins to understand the importance of education.