Deborah Green is a woman of passionate contradictions: a rabbi who craves faith and goodness while wrestling with her own doubts and desires. 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 has struggled with painful questions. Can happiness come after such loss or does the very wish profane the dead? Can religious promises ever be fulfilled? Deborah's encounter with Henry draws her into his world: his wife, Helen, a photographer fiercely devoted to her husband but frightened by him, too; his son, Lev, a science reporter who left his fiancé at the altar; and Lev's best friend from childhood, Neal, whose life fell apart after a psychotic break.