Three weeks into their marriage, Ross and Iliana Alexander get into a car accident that leaves Iliana paralyzed. Ross struggles with his guilt while Iliana learns to live with her new condition, processes complicated by Ross's too-close relationship with his twin sister Bonnie and her young son. Two years later, trying to start anew, they are running a café when Bonnie arrives with her son, stirring up unresolved tensions.
Ellen McGinty: sexy, impulsive, loud-mouthed, chock full of regrets. In middle age she sells the house she raised her daughters in, slips off the shell of her old life, and steps out for a first, tentative foray into real contentment - directly into the path of a man twenty years her junior. Through the eyes of her lover, Matt, her ex-husband, Larry, her two daughters, her grandson, and a friend who both supports and betrays her, her story explodes into multiple points of view.
2004. Jane is shocked to see a familiar face on the front page of her paper - Sonia, a lost friend accused of terrorism, who has just been released after twenty years in prison. The memories of her university housemates come flooding back: Sonia, who yearned to save the world's children from nuclear war; the Marxist-leaning Dieter; and the anarcho-feminist-pacifist Pete, who all drew Jane into NAG, an anti-nuclear group. Planning to cross the border and chain themselves to a Boeing factory fence, everything changed when a bomb exploded.
Job Sunstrom is a religious man who loves the church. When his brother's family moves back into the family farmhouse where Job lives, they bring along an evangelist. Job's brother urges him to become one of the evangelist's religious foot soldiers. But this leaves him wondering if he will ever find love of a more earthly kind.
Kat has returned with her disabled husband and young son to her family's homestead in Turtle Valley, to help her frail parents pack their belongings before forest fires destroy everything. Kat's mother, Beth, (from "The Cure for Death by Lightning") is weighed down by her ailing husband, and also by a secret she has guarded all her life. Kat is determined to get to its source before fire eats up all that is left of the family's memories.
Living on her family's farm in British Columbia in the 1940s, 15-year-old Beth Weeks escapes her abusive father and her troubled mother in a friendship with Nora, a young Native woman. Beth struggles to cope, even as she feels haunted by the fear that something is following her. Nora's grandmother believes it is the murderous Coyote spirit, responsible for mysterious deaths in the community.
As Augusta Olsen waits for news about the surgery of her beloved son-in-law, she reflects on a harsh, sometimes magical, life. Bereft after her mother's death, she marries Karl, her first suitor. Her marriage is difficult and she battles with Karl's father, but when they move to a farm of their own, she begins to find her independence. She is soon at work on her mother's old beekeeping equipment.
Max and his nephew, Owen, seem harmless enough, the older fellow spouting Shakespeare while the younger drives him to tourist spots across the American southwest. But Old Max is actually a master thief, and young Owen's summer vacation is his careful apprenticeship in a life of crime. Pulling heists is scary enough, but they soon discover that The Subtractors (criminals who steal from other thieves) are on their tail, and Owen also begins to realize that the person he loves most in the world is the one who can do him the most harm.
Detective John Cardinal of remote Algonquin Bay, Ontario is in mourning for his wife, an apparent suicide, when he starts receiving hate-filled notes gloating over his loss. Believing that his wife may have been murdered, he begins looking into who might be behind it. Meanwhile, his partner Lise Delorme is trying to track down the pedophile responsible for a cache of appalling photos featuring a possibly local girl.