A novel set mainly in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Francisco, California, Yardstick explores issues of identity, race, and gender in the turbulent, exhilarating 1970s and the distressed, divided 2000s. In a story that spans decades, we follow Susanna Ewing, who, despite her youth, spirit, and education, becomes trapped in a cycle of abuse in her twenties with a man she idolizes but must break free of. She eventually builds a stable, satisfying life with a man she loves and respects, only to discover years later that her long-ago affair gave her what she really wanted and was the best she ever had. Forced by a family crisis to confront the reality of her shadow life, Susanna realizes that she has only been going through the motions of living, but is not sure she can do anything else. As she explores the changes that love and loss create, questioning the meaning of what she experienced in the past and who she has become, Susanna must come to terms with the forces of love and desire that profoundly shaped her, in order to find the strength and freedom to live life on her own terms, without losing everything that gives it meaning now.