The main character, Thom Creed, is a teenager and an only child who is being raised by his father. His mother disappeared when he was younger, his father was publicly humiliated years ago and has never recovered his self-worth since. In this stunted household, he struggles with his awakening sexuality, desperately tries to earn his father's respect and his peers' acceptance, all while trying to get a handle his increasingly severe seizures.
Plus, everyone who has tried Ulysses can admit that stream of consciousness writing can be hard to get through. But somehow, in a modified (just-happened-a-few-minutes-ago past tense) way, Moore makes it work. Example--this is right as our teen protagonist is packing to run away from home:
"In my room I grabbed the Swiss Army knife my dad got me for
Christmas. I stood there picking at a hangnail as I tried to think about
what my life would be like once I left, where I'd live, where I'd work, how I'd
finish school. I caught myself thinking about falling in love with someone
who I hoped was out there right now thinking about the possibility of me, but I quickly banished the notion. It was that kind of thinking that landed me
in this situation to begin with. Hope can ruin you" (50).
Plus, his whole family are superheroes. Neat, huh?