Esther Kaminsky knows that her duty is to marry young and produce many sons to help hasten the Messiah’s arrival: that is what is expected of young ultra-Orthodox women in Jerusalem at the end of the Ottoman Empire’s rule. But when her French teacher catches Esther’s extraordinary doodling and gives her colored pencils and art lessons, Esther wonders if God has a special destiny for her: maybe she is meant to be an artist, not a mother; maybe she is meant to travel to Paris, not stay in Jerusalem.
In the coming years, as Esther sacrifices her yearning for painting and devotes herself instead to following God’s path as an obedient “Jerusalem maiden,” she suppresses her desires—until a surprising opportunity forces itself into her pre-ordained path. When her beliefs clash with the surging passions she has staved off her entire life, Esther must confront the hard questions: What is faith? Is there such a thing as destiny? And to whom must she be true, to God or to herself?