Papp found redemption in the game of chess, a kind of intellectual
redemption that helped offset the shame and ridicule he often faced as
an albino. With his unique ability to achieve a state of perfect
concentration, Julian was an awesome prodigy—until, that is, he
suffered his first epileptic seizure. Suddenly stripped of his
chess-playing prowess, Julian attempts suicide, and finds himself at St.
Francis Sanitarium, an institution run by an order of nuns. It is here
that he meets Marcy—an enigma to those trying to help her, an
adolescent who has blotted all memory of an undisclosed past. When put
under hypnosis, in an effort to reclaim her lost identity, the young
girl seeks the protection of an aged wood-carver, The Miniature Man, who
offers her hints about events she has repressed. He also suggests that
Julian may hold a key. Julian thus begins his most significant game, one
in which both he and Marcy will learn much about themselves—and about
the unavoidable pain of being human.