By age sixteen, Hope Yancey has created her own recipe for survival. Abandoned at birth by her mother, Hope joins her Aunt Addie, serving up comfort food in diners from all over, finally settling at the Welcome Stairways cafe in rural Wisconsin. Here, behind the facade of quiet, small town life, they discover political corruption and intimidation simmering just below the surface. As the brew thickens, it threatens not only Hope's optimism, but also the security of everyone she cares about. Hope discovers that her fantasies about mothers, fathers, life, and love need leavening, and that having a home and family has more to do with quality than quantity of time together.