On the day they first meet in a city playground, Deborah Laidlaw lends Toby Ruben a book called Trolley Girl, the memoir of a forgotten trolley strike in the 1920s, written by the sister of a fiery Jewish revolutionary who played an important, ultimately tragic role in the events. Young mothers with babies, Toby and Deborah become instant friends. It is a relationship that will endure for decades—through the vagaries of marriage, career, and child-rearing, through heated discussions of politics, ethics, and life—until an insurmountable argument takes the two women down divergent paths. But in the aftermath of crisis and sorrow, it is a borrowed book, long set aside and forgotten, that will unite Toby and Deborah once again.
Alice Mattison is the award-winning author of four story collections and five novels, including Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn. She teaches fiction in the graduate writing program at Bennington College in Vermont and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.