Armaiti has been living a comfortable life in the United States for over twenty years, a far cry from her days as a revolutionary university student in India. When she learns that she is terminally ill with only a few months to live, it is her last wish to be reunited with the three best friends she left behind in Bombay-Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta. But Armaiti's request forces the women to confront secrets they've kept long buried, and they'll need to rely on each other once again to make things right.
It is Laleh who gets the call from Armaiti and promises her oldest friend that she will help round up Kavita and long-lost Nishta for the journey to the States. Heartbroken over the news, Laleh can't shake the guilt she's been harboring over an incident at a university protest and the repercussions of that long-ago day. But she is determined to see her friend one last time. Kavita, who has remained friends with Laleh, readily agrees to the trip, but is hesitant to see Armaiti after all their years of separation. Though she'll try to use her aging mother as an excuse for her reluctance to leave Mumbai, Kavita's kept a part of herself hidden from her family and closest friends and is still afraid to face it. Despite her reservations, Kavita goes along with Laleh, who is resolute in her mission to find Nishta. Disowned by her Hindu parents for marrying a Muslim classmate, Nishta cut off all ties with her friends and fell of the grid soon after graduation. When Laleh and Kavita do eventually track her down, they are surprised to learn that their old friend has become a truly different person in the intervening years. Although Nishta's husband will forbid her from making the trip to see Armaiti, the three women put into motion a plan to fulfill their dying friend's wish, no matter what the cost.
Meanwhile, Armaiti has decided to forgo treatment for her malignant brain tumor. Her well-meaning daughter and ex-husband band together to support her, despite their disapproval of what they see as her inaction. But Armaiti must face her own mortality head-on and struggles to find peace in her remaining time.
The four friends of Thrity Umrigar's affecting fifth novel are burdened by secrets they've chosen to carry on their own for years, but it is through their reunion that each woman is able to find the strength to face the past and finally let it go. Thrity Umrigar offers readers a potent, moving meditation on friendship and the power of love to set us free.