The move from New Jersey to Hilton Head, South Carolina, wasn't easy for the Russo family — difficult enough for Big Al and Connie, but even harder for their daughter Maria Graziella, who insists on being called Grace. At thirty-two and still unmarried, Grace has scandalized her staunchly traditional Italian family by moving in with her boyfriend Michael — who, though a truly great guy, is agnostic, commitment-phobic, a scientist, and (horror of horrors) Irish! Grace adores her parents even though they drive her crazy — and she knows they'd love Michael if they got to know him, but Big Al won't let him into their house. And so the stage is set for a major showdown — which, along with a devastating, unexpected crisis and, perhaps, a miracle or two, just might change Grace's outlook on love, family, and her new life in the new South.
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings — his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance — and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse — is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.