When young, brainy Bernie Cooper escapes the Nazis and ends up in New Orleans, he thinks at first that he’s landed softly, almost immediately finding love with Letty, not only a nice Jewish girl, but fifth-generation Southern upper crust. But suddenly, snobberies he couldn’t even have guessed at are set in motion. It seems Letty’s prominent Jewish parents hate him for being… too Jewish!
At first this strikes him only as petty and small-minded, but he has no idea how much hatred his scheming mother-in-law can wring from the situation. She knows, for instance, that he had to leave behind his beloved mother, and she uses his mother’s life and memory as a lever against him, eventually causing him physical and mental problems that threaten his family’s well-being in every possible way and thwart him at every turn.
Thus, Bernie and Letty’s daughter Darby is born into the strangest of mixed marriages, torn, as her mother is, between loyalty to her grandparents and to her father. Even she, at her tender age, wonders whether Letty’s love—and her own—can save Bernie from the secret pain and guilt of surviving the Holocaust.