People have always fascinated sociologist Perry Warren, yet his most personal relationships — with his wife and young son — are in shambles. If his marriage crumbles, will his son be raised fatherless, just as he was? Hoping distance will offer answers, Perry accepts a writing project in the town of Derby, South Carolina, and there discovers a wealth of research — and a reason to hope — in the strange yet fascinating neighbors next door.
Eldeen Rafferty seems completely unfettered by the sorrows she has known. Instead, she embraces life in all its gritty, glorious detail, determined to leave cheer in her wake. Perry is baffled by her unending joy and her boundless gratitude, and he wonders what she might be able to offer to a life haunted by troubles … a life he is at a loss to repair on his own.