In “When She Comes Back” Ronit Plank writes about the longing for a mother who leaves and returns, only to leave again, with the candor of an adult and the heartbreak of a child. Her angst and actions to shield her younger sister establish the emotional thread throughout this memoir. weaving a tapestry of scenes that toughen this little girl so she can deflect others’ questions and pretend she doesn’t care that her mother is gone. Despite her father’s loving and well-meaning care, we feel the suffering of so much emptiness. The many roles she is thrown into—protector of her sister, cook for the family, and pleasant companion for her father are roles usually played by the parent. This reversal is not lost on her, even as a child. Plank writes with care and honesty, fleshing out her parents’ characters with the good and the bad sides. She shows how some missteps in her parents’ relationships with other partners reflect some of the missteps in their own upbringings, leading the reader to wonder what might happen in the next generation. But when the author has her own family, she assures us that the pattern of abandonment and/or neglect has ended with her own childhood. She embraces understanding, curiosity and compassion instead of the poison of bitterness by pursuing the connection to her mother as an adult. Not everyone in a similar situation might be able to do that but the fact that Plank has an amiable and close relationship with both her father and her mother can be a lesson for all of us in learning to accept what we can, and to discard what we can’t.