Following a suicide attempt, Reis is hospitalized, stabilized, and returned to his hometown community, where he struggles to find a new life. He takes a low-level job in a local library and reluctantly ingests the pills his psychiatrist urges upon him. He feels alienated and observes the community clandestinely, often perching in one of the trees of the public park. One day he startles a young woman and her dog when she encounters him in such a position and has a brief, awkward conversation with her before they part. Although this woman is nearly engaged to a man who is successful and handsome, if somewhat preoccupied with himself, she becomes slightly obsessed with Reis and seeks him out at the library where he works. Thus begins a relationship that endures despite various tribulations faced over the next year and for which she abandons her previous partner. Notwithstanding periods of symptomatic relapse, self-doubt, self-punishment, and suicidal obsessions, the book ends happily.