It's 1978, and Patricia Baldt Contreras is practicing medicine in New Bergen, Iowa, at a safe distance from her dysfunctional family. But her tranquility vanishes when her friend Meg receives a shocking letter from Guatemala. The anonymous writer claims that Meg's son J.J., who died in a fire twenty-four years earlier, is alive. Patricia heads for Guatemala, where she is aided by old friends Noemi and Sergio in uncovering the truth. Meanwhile, she clashes with her brother, who heads a right-wing militia and is intent on taking over the family's coffee plantation. Through it all, Patricia must find her place in a beloved country descending once again into violence.