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Stepping off the ship felt odd at first, the pier solid and unyielding beneath my feet. Odder still was the disfiguring onslaught of the snow—so different from the sugar-coating snowfalls in the mountains back home—sticking everywhere and deforming the shapes of everything it covered. Oddest of all, however, was the presence of the man who came forward to meet me, the man responsible for my existence but whose face and figure I knew only from a few old photographs and tendrils of memory. I stopped walking. What do you say to a stranger who is your father?

In the winter of 1947, Alba arrives in New York City to reunite with a father she hardly knows. Having been trained by her mother as a midwife in her native town of San Vittorio, Italy, she has traveled to America to study nursing. But when Alba discovers that her father’s home holds an unwelcome surprise, she resolves to return to San Vittorio against her father’s wishes. Driven by memories of her old life, she takes a job to earn money for her passage, but the lure of opportunity and the promise of new love draw her ever deeper into her New York life even as she remains determined to leave it.

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