This a picture of first generation Americans growing up before WWI told from the inside. It incorporates an awareness of the growing pains of the U.S. during that period. The story is long and sometimes over-emotional but sharper than the sentiment of I Remember Mama. The story develops from the different viewpoints of members of the Ivarin family. Stefan Ivarin and his wife Alexandra felt themselves wholly American although the ties to their native Russia were emotionally strong, conditioning many of their shocked reactions to undemocratic proceedings that they felt were un-American. To their children, these were problem parents. Eli suffered periodically from asthma. Francesca was adolescently self-conscious about every ""difference"" that marked their lives. Fira was the youngest, the most sensitive and had perhaps more courage than the other two and this ends as her story. Their struggles were those of immigrant assimilation -- their home was not like other houses, their meals were outlandish by American standards, their parents accents were embarrassing and the fact that they were Socialists difficult to explain. This has a great deal to say about the often emotionally painful process of becoming an American.