Minor Characters


Bree Asher Bree, Norah’s sister, married a pharmacist when she was a teenager but later divorced him. She’s a feminist and clashes with Norah’s traditionalism. Bree becomes an activist in the early 1970s and later works at the travel agency with Norah. She survives breast cancer and marries Ben, a minister. Norah’s companion throughout the novel, especially as they grow older, Bree loves freedom.

Al Simpson Married to Caroline, Al is a long-distance trucker. He first meets and helps Caroline when her car breaks down outside a store on the night she decides to keep Phoebe. He later finds Caroline in Pittsburgh and eventually convinces her to marry him. When he crashes his rig and breaks his leg, he becomes a city bus driver. Consistent, wise, and reliable, he values hard work and freedom.

Doro March An academic physicist, Doro hires Caroline as a caretaker for her father Leo, who has dementia, and lets Caroline live in the basement apartment of the house she shares with Leo. She later gifts the house to Caroline before moving away with her lover, Trace.

Leo March Doro’s father, a retired academic physicist with dementia; he tells Caroline she is smart when she finds him after he runs away.

Sandra The mother of Tim, a boy with Down syndrome, Sandra meets Caroline in Pittsburgh, and together they start the Upside Down Society to advocate for opportunities for their children.

Tim Sandra’s son, who has Down syndrome

Rosemary Rosemary is a 16-year-old pregnant girl whom David encounters in his old house in West Virginia. She’s the first person whom David tells about his decision to send Phoebe away. She moves in with David and makes money creating paper snowflakes. Later she gets married and attends David’s funeral.

Robert The man whom Phoebe falls in love with, Robert also has Down syndrome. He’s outgoing and works at a grocery store, and he and Phoebe want to get married.

Bentley An obstetrician and a colleague of David’s, Bentley is prevented by the weather from getting to the hospital the night that Norah goes into labor. David sets up a fake grave for Phoebe on Bentley’s property.

June Henry David’s sister, who died from a heart defect when she was 12 years old

Kay Marshall A friend of Norah’s, Kay is a “perfect” mother with well-behaved children. She makes advances toward David, but he rejects her affections.

Mark Bree’s boyfriend in 1970, Mark fought in the Vietnam conflict and protests against it.

Michelle A flautist with whom Paul falls in love. They break up after two years of dating.

Duke Madison A high school friend of Paul’s

Howard Norah cheats on David with Howard while on vacation in Aruba. Howard has a wife and daughter and has constructed his own camera obscura, which David is very interested in.

Frederic Norah’s second husband