This daring work?one of the first written for general readership by a celebrated author of children's and YA books?encompasses themes not easily contained in the short-story format. Six diverse stories present earnest people living hopelessly awkward lives, facing head-on the kinds of social issues that cannot be solved by individual effort, such as the difficulties faced by women in the workplace, or the handling and euthanizing of stray dogs.
The title piece centers on Rika, a woman working in Tokyo for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). She learns that Ed, her boss and ex-husband, has died on assignment in Afghanistan. She reminisces about their married life together?a time when the bitter outweighed the sweet. During their seven years of marriage, Ed's career had kept him travelling to conflict zones around the globe; they had spent fewer than 100 nights together in all.
Working in the same organization, Rika knew all too well the passion Ed brought to the task of helping the world's refugees. For this reason she could not hate him. It was because of her love for him that she opted for a divorce. Learning that he has lost his life in the service of UNHCR, she is at last prepared to live her own life once more. The story is a probing exploration of the mind of a woman torn between her desires for a tranquil personal life on the one hand, and a life filled with a sense of mission and socially-minded purpose on the other.