Growing up in a large family in the heart of Staten Island’s oldest Little Italy, Rosa marries at 18, only to be beaten and divorced by 22. To revive her traumatized skin, she is the first client of the mysterious new Le Salon de l’Amour. A cashier at the drug store since high school, she is discovered, pronounced a display-design genius, and moved to the chain’s headquarters. She successfully pursues a trauma-survivor company VP, who whips her and kills himself. She rises from her hospital bed to give a graduation speech denouncing domestic violence, becomes a YouTube inspiration for a grass-roots movement. Using social media, Rosa’s Angels calls on abused women to “come out,” to help each other, and to stop the violence.
Tony, a mechanic and auto-shop teacher, has adored Rosa from afar since she was a teen. When she marries, he moves on to marry a cop. Lucia’s killed in the line of duty, answering a shots-fired domestic call. Some years later, his admiration of Rosa resurrected, he finds her near death and calls 911, sneaks her from the hospital to give her graduation speech, and catches her when she collapses on stage. Rosa is thankful but no more interested than she’s ever been. He falls in love with Tatya, a young Russian-American assigned to write Rosa’s story. Jealousy brings to the surface Rosa’s hidden emotions, and Tony’s caught between two loves.