Nearly killed by poisonous gases in their own home, Olivia Alfieri and her husband, Marco, survive their ordeal by fleeing to the mountains of Vermont. But a new, secluded life isn't enough for Olivia, who knows in her heart that it isn't where she'll find the answer to a question that's been burning inside her since she was a toddler, when she nearly drowned TWICE. As she coined it, she's been searching all her life for "THE WHY" ? why she was saved then, and now, remarkably, once again. Stirred into action by a series of recurring dreams that feel like callings, along with news from a long-lost friend, she embarks on a trip across the country with her dog, Tucker, to attend the funeral of her high school boyfriend. Once there, haunting memories that she's kept deep inside her rise to the surface. And, when she ends up wrecking her car, there is no escaping the small town and the past that comes flooding back, demanding to be dealt with. Due to the chemical injuries she's sustained from the poisonous gases, Olivia is unable to stay in some lodging places, and she winds up renting a room from a colorful old Italian woman. But she gets much more than she pays for when the woman takes it upon herself to heal Olivia with botanical remedies and food from her impressive gardens, along with doling out cryptic advice to her on a daily basis. As Olivia begins to heal, she becomes closely involved with the family of her recently deceased high school boyfriend. His wife and children are reeling from his death, as well as from the secrets he kept and the financial position he's left them in. Because she's a "fixer" at heart, Olivia can't help but to try and save them. So, while the old woman heals Olivia, Olivia attempts to heal them. She even comes to believe that this mission may indeed be "THE WHY." As she did when she was a child, Olivia walks the banks of the Rio Grande River, searching for answers. The dreams she had before she came west were of varying scenes of a river, a teenage boy, a young girl, and what seemed to be their mother. In the dreams, they were all in distress. Olivia now believes the dreams were about this family she's attempting to help. On her treks along the river, she comes upon the teenage boy, who is torn between his highly dysfunctional family and his future. She also comes across his younger sister, who has been deeply scarred from past events. And each time Olivia walks the banks, she is visited by a mysterious red-tailed hawk that makes direct and purposeful eye contact with her. Along the banks and in the shallows of the Rio Grande, the boy sketches, the girl floats naked and Olivia tries to make sense of it all. It's the wise old Italian woman who comes to Olivia's aid, helping to clear her vision by revealing facts about Olivia's childhood and the mystery that surrounded her family. Once that shroud is lifted, Olivia is able to summon the strength necessary to move herself and the grieving family forward. But then, the old woman presents Olivia with a gift, and the entire meaning of her trip gets turned on its head. Olivia, who had thought she'd been subliminally called back to face her own past and/or help the family, now realizes that the "callings" she's experienced regard her own husband, and have an extremely significant purpose?one that dates back to the 1600s, and one that Olivia now knows is "THE WHY."