Author, Philip Galanes, has a very special ability of delving into his characters psyche's and creating story around them using minimal actual history. His characters come alive from the inside out and one senses from the beginning that even Emma has a compassionate heart beneath her chilly exterior. Voices from the past (and present, in the case of Gracie) guide each character in their actions and reactions to each other and life's circumstances in general. Galanes demonstrates in his story how one simple act of kindness, i.e. Emma's need to find a Nakashima table for Mr. Tanaguchi,because of her own guilt of "stealing" her table at auction, can become the tipping point to opening a whole new world of compassion, understanding and acceptance, not just for Emma, but for all those around her.