There is a hell of a lot going on in this book. In the early twentieth century, four year old Rachel and her brother are put in a Jewish orphanage after their father "accidentally" kills their mother. In the orphanage, Rachel is subjected to a series of x-ray tests that will have significant effects on her life, the most obvious being her permanent baldness. Despite all the odds, she does pretty well for herself eventually becoming a nurse. Rachel had pretty well blocked out her childhood, but when one of the patients she's treating turns out to be a doctor that tested on her, it all comes rushing back. She is forced to confront her past and come to terms with how it is affecting her future. This book does a great job illustrating problems that minorities (Jews, orphans, women, lesbians) faced in the first half of the twentieth century and does a great job of outlining the historical basis for the book in the afterward. Dark, but enlightening.