Antonia Vega, born in the Dominican Republic and living in Vermont, is a retired English teacher recently widowed. She is full of self pity when two events force her to stop thinking of herself and try to help others. Mario works for the farmer next door. He arrived from Mexico illegally and soon his pregnant girlfriend arrives from Mexico, too. Since Antonia speaks Spanish, she is put in the uncomfortable situation of helping the young couple. Antonia is one of four sisters. The oldest, Izzy, is bipolar and has disappeared. The sisters feel they must find her before something catastrophic occurs.
Afterlife does not show Julia Alvarez at her best. Read In the Time of the Butterflies if you want to see what she is capable of writing.