In the 1950s, in a small town in northern Michigan, a state mental hospital well recognized for its patient care is increasingly threatened by a mysterious collusion of local greed and state politics. What begins as chronic vandalism soon spirals to physical assault.
Struggling to make sense of the mysterious events, psychology intern Henry Merchartt wrestles with agonizing challenges to his ethical beliefs as he navigates the complex world of the hospital, patients and staff, and the local community and tension builds. In the process, Henry develops a brotherly bond with Jimmy Quinn, a patient whose work at the asylum illuminates for Henry the critical dignity that accompanies humanistic patient care.
Henry's moral indignation mounts as Jimmy falls victim to the effects of the collusion's endangerment of patient participation in work programs. Henry puts his professional and personal life in jeopardy, propelling him from simply being a closet social critic to taking dramatic, covert illegal actions for Jimmy's sake.
An unforgettable story of fraternal love and human compassion, Jimmy Quinn weaves together two narrative arcs. One is the hospital’s tragic loss of its “work is therapy” approach to patient care. The other is the development of Henry’s moral courage, as he chronicles it with the voice of a skilled reporter.