Plot points may be revealed below.
A strange boy named Anthony has just barged into Caroline’s room quoting Walt Whitman, and Caroline is freaking out. She has no idea what’s going on; she hasn’t been to her high school in weeks, home sick with a liver disease. But Anthony explains: they’re supposed to work on an English project together, a presentation on Whitman’s "Song of Myself".
This is not welcome news: Caroline hates school, just as much as she hates that her disease won’t let her be there. And she especially hates poetry. There’s about a million things she’d rather be doing than this project, and most of them involve texting her friends, or Instagramming the (surprisingly artful) photos she takes on her phone. “I swear to God,” she says, “if I lose wifi? I’d rather lose my nose.”
Then suddenly, Anthony bursts into dramatic recitation of Whitman’s poetry. “I too am not a bit tamed,” he shouts, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” It grabs Caroline’s attention, and she begins, slowly, to let Anthony in in small ways. They share waffle fries. She snaps his photo. Before she knows it, they’ve delved head-first into the project, and “Walter Whitman, National Badass” has swept her off her feet.
Anthony is starting to sweep her off her feet a bit as well, when he reveals a shocking story: he was playing basketball earlier that day, when one of the other players dropped dead in the middle of the court. It left him pretty shaken up, and unearthed lots of anxiety about death: How can someone just… stop being here? But Caroline can offer some comfort in that arena. She has to stare down death every day—or at least until an organ donor comes in. “You should be with someone,” she offers.
“I am with someone,” he replies. And they open up to each other even more. He plays her a recording of his favorite music. She confesses her dreams of becoming a photographer. She rocks out to “Great Balls of Fire” and doesn’t even care that he’s watching. They connect in the deepest ways—when Caroline collapses in pain, sobbing, furious at her body and how it ruins her life at every turn. “I don’t wanna be on Team Caroline anymore,” she says.
“Well tag me in,” Anthony responds. Needing to finish their Whitman project, Anthony records Caroline’s part of the presentation: she gives an expert, heartfelt analysis of the poem’s use of pronouns—how the meanings of “I” and “You” shift, until “You is very much We.” Anthony is blown away. They’ve finally found each other. They kiss, and their whole world is changed.