The story, and it is one of two main ones in the book, starts in the broken, soon heartbreaking English of Indian immigrant Lakshmi. Forced to migrate to America in a loveless and even verbally abusive marriage, she attempts suicide and lands on the professional doorstep of psychologist Maggie. Maggie, whose tale forms the second narration in the book, is an African-American woman married to an Indian man, which is why she gets assigned to Lakshmi in the hospital.
Maggie feels differently about Lakshmi than about her other patients: something in the broken, isolated woman reaches out to Maggie, who is having marital problems herself. Soon, there are secrets revealed and friendships tested to the breaking point. The book is one of desires, unbounded love (for the people in our lives that range from siblings to husbands, to pet elephants) and, ultimately, the chance for forgiveness. “Everybody has a hungry heart,” Maggie thinks to herself.
The book ends on an unresolved point. As much as the reader hopes that one possibility will happen, the reader can’t help but step back and consider. Will true love be re-affirmed, or is it – was it – just one big lie, cobbled together under the pressures of time, location and need?