Politics, art, memories, and dreams forge a potent identity as one woman tries to make sense of her life. An unplanned pregnancy gives Elizabeth, a 33-year-old disabled activist and feminist artist, the impetus finally to confront her history. She takes inventory of her current lifestyle, which involves teaching art on a grant at the San Francisco Independent Living Center, mounting an exhibit of photographs of naked disabled women, and working for better health care for the women of Nicaragua. And all the while she is thankful for the small miracles that enable her to live as she does -- doing Real Work (her art) instead of Work Work (night-shift word-processing at a law firm) -- like the kosher Cuban black beans and rice recipe at 20 cents a serving that she eats a few nights a week, and the student who finds linen tunics and velvet smoking jackets for her at the Salvation Army and hides them under the used sheets until he can bring her back to try them on. But a baby could change everything. She wonders if her four-month-old relationship with a 24-year-old photographer can last. She looks back at a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt and remembers that she wasn't always as strong as she now seems. Most important, she tries to understand her own upbringing in the home of Communist parents who suffered in the McCarthy era. But while no amount of digging can fully explain how these white-bread children turned into fascist-fighting Reds and then became vacant (in the case of her mother) or abusive (in the case of her father) alcoholics, Elizabeth's journey finally brings a sense of acceptance and peace. Finger's debut novel is marked by lyrical, searing prose that evokes the strength, influence, and fragility of memory. Funny, stirring, tender, true.