Along the Sylvan Trail dips into the lives of linked characters as they confront futures that aren't clearly dictated by conventional planning. All characters are connected in some way to the small town of Sylvan Grove, Iowa. On a clear day, they can see the water tower or grain silo of the next town up the road, which is both a way in and a path out.
We meet Cody, a laid-off college recruiter for a big agriculture company about to start a job advocating for public access to private land. We meet Amber, a young scientist who understands how most things work except for her own heart. We meet her best friend Josie, who ricochets from visual arts to poetry to innkeeping.
Her partner Jeff has an ex-girlfriend who refers to him as "Jeff Many Secrets" for reasons readers will discover. We meet Toby, a former football star turned journalist turned political aid until his candidate loses the election. We meet the regulars at the Settlers Bar in Fremont, Wyoming, and spend a year at the foot of the Wind River Mountains.
These characters and more populate a world focused on the terrain from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, sometimes viewed as "flyover country" but in this book, shown to be diverse, quirky, and hopeful.