Jerry Spinelli's "Maniac Magee" tells the story of Jeffrey Magee, a boy who runs away from home and finds himself in a town divided by race. When he arrives in the town of Two Mills, Pennsylvania, Jeffrey becomes a local legend and is given the nickname "Maniac."
After his parents are killed, Jeffrey is raised by his Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan, who refuse to communicate with each other. Jeffrey screams at them during a school musical and runs away. A year later, he resurfaces in Two Mills, where black people live in the East End of town and white people live in the West End.
In the East End, Maniac meets Amanda Beale, who gives him a used book. He then proceeds to make a scene around town, breaking a star pitcher's streak and saving a boy stuck in the backyard of a mysterious local house. Maniac is eventually welcomed in by the Beale family, but he decides to leave after a racial slur is painted on the family's house.
Maniac temporarily moves to the local zoo and then moves to another East End house, where he attempts to reconcile the two sides of Two Mills, only succeeding when a bully from the East End saves a boy from the West End. At the end of the novel, Maniac ends up moving back to the Beales' house.