Ava is still reeling a year after her husband, Jim, left her for another woman. She decides to join her friend Cate's long-running book group, figuring it might make her feel more connected. Over the next year, each book club member gets to choose the book that has mattered the most to them as one of the titles the group will read. Ava chooses a book from her childhood that soothed the sorrow she felt when her younger sister, Lily, and mother, Charlotte, died within a year of each other. Meanwhile, Ava's troubled daughter, Maggie, is studying abroad in Italy, but follows a lover to Paris, where she falls into her usual self-destructive behavior. Alternating the focus between Ava and Maggie, the novel explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, secrets, and learning to recover and heal when the unexpected happens.