As a young psychology intern, Annie Rogers writes these words about her severely disturbed patient Ben, a five-year-old boy who has already seen a lifetime of trouble - orphaned as a baby, then fostered out to a family who forgot him in his crib when they fled a household fire. Now he talks with screams and punches, and only Annie can manage to draw him out with her infinitely skillful and intuitive play therapy. Listening with almost superhuman attention to the story his play reveals, she picks out the abandonment and fear that echo in his every movement, and slowly teaches him to trust and to love. But as Ben begins to explore the trauma of his past through his relationship with Annie, she finds herself being drawn downward into her own mental anguish. Catastrophically failed by her own therapist, she is hospitalized with a temporary but complete breakdown, losing even the ability to speak - and, like Ben, must struggle to understand her past horrors by giving them a name. Together she and her gifted new analyst uncover where her history of childhood terror overlaps with Ben's. Annie learns how she can complete her unfinished work with the child by creating a new story from the old - one that ultimately heals them both.