Leo Gurskey escaped Poland after making himself "invisible" to the Nazis during WWII. He comes to New York in search of his childhood girlfriend and love, Alma. Finding her married and mother of two sons, one of which he learns he fathered before she escaped to America, he realizes that duty and responsibility will not allow her to leave this marriage. What was a young, unmarried, pregnant girl to do? New to America, alone, without an income or way to care for herself and her child, she married a "nice" man. So Leo spends his days wandering New York City, trying to become visible once again. His quirky ways ... spilling milk at Starbuck's to get noticed, posing nude for an art class (at 70+ years old), watching for his son from across the street and writing another book ... are the methods he uses to pass time until his death.
Leo had written a book, The History of Love, when he was not yet 20. The book was about his great love for Alma, the girl of his youth. He gave the manuscript to a friend in Poland, asking him to hold it for him (the friend was leaving the country) until he too could escape to freedom. No one actually knows what became of that manuscript but Leo's quest to connect to the world and not have lived a purposeless life are the quest that eventually helps him learn what actually did happen to his writing.
In a parallel plot, a young girl named Alma (named after the characters in a book written in Spanish and given to her mother by her father when they were falling in love)searches for meaning and knowledge of her namesake. Silently grieving her father's death, watching her younger brother behave bizarrely and her mother withdraw into her world of literature translations, Alma happens onto the real truth of Leo's manuscript (without knowing it is Leo's) and the intricate pieces of this puzzle of a novel come together in a moving and memorable way.
This report prepared by Kathy Nielsen