Barnaby Gaitlin at 30 years old feels aimless and lacking a purpose and direction in his life. He has worked for 11 years for the "Rent-A-Back" company that provides services to mostly elderly people that have trouble doing heavy tasks at home. Barnaby committed a string of robberies as an adolescent, but avoided jail time because his affluent parents paid off the neighbors he stole from and sent him to a private "reform" school.
It is a Gaitlin family tradition that each member is visited by an "angel" who appears briefly with a wise pronouncement that clarifies their life direction. Barnaby convinces himself that his angel is a woman he sees doing a good deed in a train station while he's on his way to his ex-wife's home to visit his daughter. He pursues this woman named Sophia on the alert for wise pronouncements. None occur, although they do develop a serious relationship.
As the story progresses, Barnaby wrestles with his unsatisfying family relationships. His observations of his family's interactions are humorous and bittersweet. He is kind and caring in his contacts with his Rent-A-Back clients and grows as he sees them struggle with illness and death. When Barnaby is falsely accused of a theft, his relationship with Sophia is put to the test. This experience clarifies for him what matters most in how he will live his life, and in what he means to the people around him.
This report prepared by Susan Coffey