Upon arrival at Barton Prison, Julian is processed and taken to a cell occupied by a prisoner named Gordon, who soon becomes his lover. However, six months later, a jealous guard sends Gordon to another wing of the prison, separating the lovers. Not to be deterred, Julian sends a message to Gordon via Lanky, another prisoner, which starts a long correspondence between them. Through their letters, readers learn more about the two men -- their backgrounds, their secrets, their hopes and dreams. The letters reveal the story of two lovers trapped inside a prison, separated from the world outside and from each other. But prison life is hard. There are bashings and murders. There are corrupt prison officers and violent inmates. How can Julian, who comes from an upper middle-class family and is incarcerated for an accident, hope to survive against such odds, especially when he becomes the target of a particularly corrupt and vicious screw?