A family gathers to remember one of their own: a brother, an uncle, a mate, a son. Uncle Ron has died of AIDS (obviously, though it is never spelled out), and his mother, brother and sister-in-law, niece and nephew, and companion are sewing a panel for the great national memorial quilt. Lauren, the niece, narrates as the assembled recall Ron fondly while they pick and choose various items to sew on the panel. The sting of his death is particularly acute for Lauren; her uncle treated her as an adult, but knew how to throw his great protective arms around her--he was her teacher and her friend. Heartache a mile wide runs through this story, named in Lauren, hinted at in the brother, forceful in an old companion, and most apparent in Lauren's grandmother, with clues that she will have to suffer alone (""Grandpa hadn't come after Uncle Ron's memorial service either,"" and ""'Grandpa says he doesn't know how to sew,'""). The ending--the somber mood dissolves as everyone dances--feels contrived, but that doesn't negate the value of this book, which allows readers to explore, as they so choose or not, related issues. In his first picture book, Hills's soft-focus artwork serves mostly as a buffer to all the sharp emotions of the text.