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Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1936, the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York. Here the father--a former high school teacher--is demeaned by the only job he can get: gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. When local prejudice and the family's own emotional frailty give rise to an unthinkable tragedy, the gravedigger's daughter, Rebecca heads out into America. Embarking upon an extraordinary odyssey of erotic risk and ingenious self-invention, she seeks renewal, redemption, and peace--on the road to a bittersweet and distinctly "American" triumph.