Sage is a 30-year-old woman, working as a waitress in one of those pseudo New York Delis located in Los Angeles. She was not meant for this job and at some point she is going to resign, but till then she keeps going there. One day she receives a postcard from her mother, a woman she hadden’t seen in twenty-five years. This event triggers a series of flashbacks to her past, to the time before her sister’s untimely death, when they were both children. Her mother could not cope with the loss of her daughter and a distant husband, who would always be found with one of Steinbeck books in hand, reading passages to his family. The last time Sage saw her mother and shared a moment, was when her mother instructed her to stir the soup, while she was out to bring bread for the table. Her mother never came back from the store and Sage was left to grow up with the distant father and her strong opinionated grandmother.
The story starts a bit slowly, in order to give the frame under which the protagonist is living in the present and has lived in the past. The reader goes through the unpleasant memory of Rose of Sharon’s death, Sage’s older sister, and everyone’s reaction to the event that changed their lives. And they do live separate lives even before the accident.
Sage’s relationship is also a topic that is brought to attention from the very first pages. It is displayed as a weakness from Sage’s side while it evolves to show the strength of her character till the very end of the book. The reader may feel sorry for her, or urge her to leave this miserable life. The memories that are recalled push to that direction. However, as the story is brought back to present and it reaches the end of the narration, the main character’s true strength is displayed in a simple manner.