There is a unique assortment of personalities residing at the Echo Terrace condominiums, all with private concerns and prejudices. Farro Fescu, the concierge, is a Rumanian and a lover of lists. Burdened with a romantic soul and disappointed with his life, Fescu finds comfort in his lists, keeping track of his many charges and their unceasing needs, a way to manage the ever-present threat of chaos. Too easily mired in his personal disappointments, the concierge is soothed by his lists, which allow him a short respite from his constant struggle.
Author Nicholas Rinaldi’s characters are complex, an odd melding of the dichotomies that plague most people, the ambiguity of routine, the occasional prick of conscience that breaks through the surface, the distance of real passion or emotion from everyday expression; the residents act out their roles, playing their assigned parts, indistinguishable. But their interiors are jumbled and patched, unrecognizable. Inside, reality plays havoc with their souls.
In one apartment lives a young widow, surrounded by her memories and the exotic animals that remind her of her marriage and the rainforest where she honeymooned with her husband. Tormented by her loss, she luxuriates in the sensory illusion of the past. A time out of mind, the intensity of experience cannot be regained once the couple returns to the city, their marriage soiled by habit and boredom.
A plastic surgeon loves his work - as well he should, having the power to change lives, sculpting perfection into the human form. But, careful as he is, mistakes, misjudgments are made; some of his patients are willing to go to any lengths to sabotage their carefully constructed new identities. People are, after all, victims of their own perceptions, often unable to allow themselves the opportunities of their new lives.
Working on the housekeeping staff at the Echo Terrace condominiums, Yesenia is only nineteen, her whole life yawning before her, expectant. She has dreams, even in this hard city, her youth a protection against cynicism. One evening, lost in the fading beauty of the city twilight, she dawdles too long and darkness falls, rendering the streets more dangerous. Yesenia finds herself alone on the subway, with a young man softly stalking her, waiting to pounce.
Those who live in Echo Terrace are sophisticated, proud to be a part of New York; but the shadow-people, the unseen workers, entertain more cautious expectations. In this place, the author has built a human sculpture, each new armature attached to the body defining the form, like branches from a tree, entwined. These people affect each other in immeasurable ways, their identity changing minutely, a living work of art. Eventually, they are united in purpose, grateful to have survived on that terrible day in September that changes the world forever.