Wanting to be a writer when she grows up is much like wanting to be a unicorn or a leprechan, so Karla Theilen didn't talk about it. Instead she shares her other dream of wanting to be a nurse from another era, say, the Crimean War. These two dreams coalesce over time as Karla makes peace with how to be both writer and nurse.
A child in 1943 hides in the lilies of a lake in the Philippine village of Tarlac as the Japanese occupy his village. He goes on to move to Detroit and become a doctor. This story fills Alex with awe and inspires him to take his child to a lake in Michigan, years later, infusing him with the wisdom he’s learned.
After a rousing bout playing street football, Steven learns that his father is called back to Germany to testify against a concentration camp guard. Over the course of the next several years, Steven learns what life was like for his father in the concentration camp while at the same time trying to please his father by becoming a football player.