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Mark Whitaker's parents were an interracial couple in an era when such relationships were extremely rare and risky. His father "Syl" was the grandson of slaves and his mother Jeanne Theis, a shy WWII refugee from France. They met when she was a Swarthmore college professor and he was her student. Loving first in secret, they soon married and had two sons. Syl became a brilliant historian of Africa, but his womanizing and alcoholism destroyed his marriage and eventually sabotaged his career. Left with self-recrimination and depression, Jeanne raised her sons alone. In this insightful, heartfelt novel, Mark Whitaker writes sensitively about his gifted, trouble-plagued parents, recovering as it were the marriage they lost.