Ivan Isaenko is an intellectually gifted seventeen-year-old living in isolation at a children's hospital in Belarus because of a terminal illness. For the most part, every day is exactly the same for Ivan, until a new resident named Polina arrives at the hospital. The two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of. Before, he survived by being utterly detached from things and people. Now, Ivan wants something more: Ivan wants Polina to live.