Deborah Green is a woman of passionate contradictionsa rabbi who craves goodness and surety while wrestling with her own desires and with the sorrow and pain she sees around her. Her life changes when she visits the hospital room of Henry Friedman, an older man who has attempted suicide. His parents were murdered in the Holocaust when he was a child, and all his life he’s struggled with difficult questions. Deborah’s encounter with Henry and his family draws her into a world of tragedy, frailty, love, and, finally, hope.
The author, whose first novel, Eve's Apple, offered a memorable portrait of a woman with a history of anorexia, somehow avoids allowing the familiarity of his characters to turn them into stereotypes. Deborah, who wraps herself in her grandfather's tallis, or prayer shawl, before praying every morning, may be bossy, but she also has a good heart. One of the first things we learn about her is that she stoops to tie an old man's shoes on Broadway when she sees that he cannot bend over far enough to reach them.