Things have to be settled, or they never go away. "Only weeks before she dies in March, 1984, Leo Nolan’s mother shows her son a rose she says was just given to her by her brother, Jack, who disappeared 50 years earlier. After her death, letters from Jack begin to arrive at the family home. They are postmarked 1934. The final one is from Ashland, Kentucky. Leo heads to Ashland, to track down the source of the letters. And to find out why they are arriving now, after 50 years.
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On a streetcar, on Christmas Day, 1950, clutching the chrome rail in front of him, Martin Radey looks at the woman seated beside him, a stranger, and utters his last words: "I can't breathe." Like millions, billions before him, it is his turn to die. But death is not what he expected. The journey has only begun. From 1880 to 1950, time happens to the world around him, not to memory, because memory, he discovers, is beyond time, traveling forward with him, shaping the earth, the sky, the heart.
When Leo Nolan's father dies in 1995, his stepson, Adam, now twenty-one, finally asks the question that he has never asked, the question he could never ask. He asks it simply. "Is my father alive?" Thus begins this new odyssey to Dayton, Ohio, to the past, accompanied by family ghosts and the hard truths of the present. Leo's quest is both simple and complex: the need in the human heart for redemption, resolution and homecoming.