Driven by cataclysmic world events, the story encompasses the lives of three generations of women.
In Book One, Paulina, the privileged daughter of aristocratic parents, reluctantly follows her driven businessman husband to America in 1929. From a vantage point in New York she endures a difficult marriage and slowly becomes aware of the destruction of her large, extended family in Poland as the Nazis tighten their grip on Europe.
Book Two begins in 1940 following Paulina's daughter, Sarah, as she pursues a career in photography. Sent on assignment to the Displaced Persons camps in Europe, Sarah is shaken loose from her faith and pursues a hedonistic path.
The Third book deals with Mimi, Sarah's daughter. A solitary young woman, she becomes curious about her family's past. She explores the Holocaust and searches for her roots. In a confrontational scene, Paulina hands over her family's pre-war correspondence that she calls her "Paper Children."