For 20 years, Allie Heller, first met in Laurie Alberts's novel Tempting Fate, has been haunted by the memory of her daughter, Lila, given up for adoption at birth. "Your absence is the center of my life," she begins, in an account of her life she intends to share in an imagined reunion with her grown child. Allie's troubled history, a fractured tale which she prepares for Lila, "to convince you that I couldn't help my long-ago defection," alternates with chapters about Lila, who was raised in a peripatetic military family. Lila, having just undergone an abortion, "eliminating the only blood relative she may ever know," and feeling that her college career is in shambles, decides to fill in the missing pieces of her own personal history by locating her birth mother.
On Lila's 21st birthday, when the adoption files can be opened, Allie sets out to track her daughter down. The converging quest of mother and daughter for each other comes to a shocking and disturbing conclusion, one that fully reveals the true character of all the protagonists and the deceptions that have shaped their lives