It opens with a card game. Played between Jordan's mother and grandmother, the game is called The Mao, and, like the adult world in which he is prematurely thrust, the rules seem arbitrary and the stakes staggeringly high - whoever wins the game wins custody of him. So begins this 15-year-old child actor's odyssey through the temptations of Hollywood and the emotional minefield of his family's life. As the story unfolds, we learn that Jordan's father has molested him throughout his childhood and that his mother, a narcissistic woman immersed in her acting career, has little interest in him. The only stable force in his life is his grandmother, a remarkable woman with whom Jordan shares everything from dances to drugs to his innermost confidences; a woman who is slowly dying. Heart-wrenching and highly cinematic, 'The Mao Game' sheds light on both the fragile vulnerability and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. An unmistakably modern coming-of-age story, it marks the triumphant debut of an important new voice in the next generation of American novelists.