Judith Soo Jin Raphael's childhood was shaped by her hardworking immigrant mother, her father who left them, and her struggles to fit in as a half-Korean, half-Jewish kid in a tough urban neighborhood. But music lessons gave her a purpose and passion. Now, as Judith's fiftieth birthday nears, she has rewarding work as a cellist with the Maryland Philharmonic, an enthusiastic if uncommitted lover, and a quirky but close relationship with her mother.
Then chaos strikes: Judith's first love, who dumped her decades ago, returns to dazzle her with his golden pedigree and brilliant career. Her long-absent father arrives out of the blue with a snazzy car and a con man's patter, turning her mother into a love-struck flirt whom Judith barely recognizes. All this while her mentor at the orchestra falls seriously ill. No wonder Judith develops a paralyzing case of stage fright.
Judith finds herself feeling—and sometimes acting—slightly unhinged, but she's convinced that happiness will arrive any day now. She's just got to hold on tight during this midlife shake-up…and claim the prize that life surely has in store for her.