Nonna said the way to cheat death is to transform yourself — but did she mean it literally or figuratively?
In all the years that Elisa has been going to see Nonna, her mother has never gone with her. When she was too young to go alone, their neighbors and friends took her — never her mother. And while her mother wants to know how Nonna is doing and asks all kinds of questions about her, Nonna never asks about her daughter. When Elisa tries to talk about her mother, Nonna just changes the subject.
Elisa adores her grandmother, who paints pictures, lives in a tiny but wonderful house, goes on walks with her, and talks to her about almost everything. Together they act out Shakespeare's plays. Nonna also tells Elisa stories, including Nonna's favorite, about how there was once a place in the world where women who wanted to cheat death could live forever. The secret to cheating death, Nonna always says, is to transform yourself into something else. That way, you won't always look the same, but you'll live forever.
Elisa doesn't know what to do, and she's afraid to tell her mother. She's always thought Nonna's stories about transforming instead of dying were just that — stories. But Nonna is beginning to look so different — could they be true? Is Nonna really becoming another kind of creature? But how? And what?