August 9th, 1945, Nagasaki. Hiroko Tanaka steps onto her veranda, wrapped in a kimono with three black cranes swooping across the back. She is twenty-one and on the verge of marrying Konrad Weiss. In a split second, the world turns white. In the numbing aftermath of a bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost. Two years later, in search of new beginnings, Hiroko travels to Delhi to find Konrad's relatives and falls in love with their employee, Sajjad Ashraf. As the years unravel, new homes replace those left behind and old wars are seamlessly usurped by new conflicts. But the shadows of history - personal, political - are cast over the entwined worlds of the different families as they are transported from Pakistan to New York, and to Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.