After the sudden death of her husband, Antonia would like nothing more than to recede into her solitary cocoon of grief. However, when the universe conspires to place her in the midst of telenovela-esque, high-stakes drama, she discovers that even after death, her loved ones come back to her in unexpected ways. Between the undocumented young pregnant woman who desperately needs her help, and her sister who has disappeared during a manic episode, Antonia wrestles with questions she feels ill-equipped to deal with on her own. She reluctantly teams up with her neighbors and her three other sisters to simultaneously quell these crises, but she is never quite sure how to prioritize one person’s suffering over another’s, including her own.
As a long-time English teacher, she often defers to the wisdom of her favorite authors in order to make sense of her world, but as the fabric of her life and community unravel, it is the memories of her late husband and family that shape her actions. Alvarez’s novel captures the many contradictions of grieving and relationships—especially the way our loved ones can tug at our heartstrings and inspire change in us even as we wrestle with a jumbled combination of resentment, admiration, and loyalty.
She is keeping to her routines, walking a narrow path through the loss—not allowing her thoughts to stray. Occasionally, she takes sips of sorrow, afraid the big wave might wash her away.