Alice Hoffman evokes the world of the Samuelsons, a family torn apart by tragedy and divorce in a world of bad judgment and fierce attachments, disappointments and devotion. Hoffman charts the always unexpected progress of Gretel Samuelson from the time Gretel is a young girl already acquainted with betrayal and grief, until she finally leaves home. Gretel's sly, funny, knowing perspective is at the heart of this collection as she navigates through loyalty and loss with the help of an unforgettable trio of women - her best friend Jill, her romance-addicted cousin Margot and her mother, Franny, whose spiritual journey affects them all. Told in alternating voices, these tales work wonders. Funny and lyrical, disturbing and healing, each is a lesson of survival, a reminder of the ties of blood and the power of friendship.