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Before a car crash takes her husband from her, Antonia Vega tells him that she plans to write a book about the invisible workers who make the way people live possible. “Invisible to whom?” he asks. Surely not to those who love them—or seek to police them. As she retires from her work as a professor, Vega is haunted by loss of her husband and, later, the disappearance of one of her three sisters, but also a surprise appearance when the pregnant, undocumented girlfriend of a Mexican laborer who works on a neighboring farm knocks on her door in need of help. In National Medal of Arts recipient Julia Alvarez’s first adult novel in 14 years, what unfurls is a coming-of-old-age story that shows how national political concerns can become personal, without simple solutions.

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