In Ueno Park, Tokyo, as workers and tourists gather for lunch, the pollen blows, a fountain erupts, pigeons scatter, and two women meet, changing the course of one another's lives.
Dinah has come to Japan from New Zealand to teach English and grieve the death of her brother, Michael, a troubled genius who was able to channel his problems into music as a classical pianist - until he wasn't. In the seemingly empty, eerie apartment block where Dinah has been housed, she sees Michael everywhere, even as she feels his absence sharply.
Yasuko is polished, precise, and keenly observant - of her students and colleagues at the language school, and of the natural world. When she was thirteen, animals began to speak to her, to tell her things she did not always want to hear. She has suppressed these powers for many years, but sometimes she allows them to resurface, to the dismay of her adult son, Jun. One day, she returns home, and Jun has gone. Even her special gifts cannot bring him back.
As these two women deal with their individual trauma, they form an unlikely friendship in which each will help the other to see a different possible world, as Smaill teases out the tension between our internal and external lives and asks what we lose by having to choose between them.
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