Prudence Whistler is the kind of woman who lives by lists and plans. Tucked into her meticulously organized day planner, she keeps a list of the pros and cons offered by her boyfriend, Rudy Fisch. On the plus side, he's dependable, loving and committed. He's also unpredictable, sweaty, immature and embarrassing.

Then there's her life plan, which she carefully wrote in college: married with children by 29, having worked her way up from grant writer to executive director of a nonprofit. As things turn out, it's true what they say about best-laid plans. At age 36, Pru finds her career has stalled and an engagement ring is nowhere in sight. In fact, that idiot Rudy has the audacity to dump her.

Suddenly single and unemployed, Pru finds herself without any plan at all. It's a painful state of uncertainty for someone who thrives on knowing her next step. She's finds herself facing "more in-betweens: late afternoon, early spring, adolescence, falling in love. She hated the in-betweens. Always, she just wanted to get where she was going - to be there already. She was almost paralyzed by in-betweenness." But while marriage and children seem to have escaped her, Pru surrounds herself with her own ready-made family: her college friend McKay and his partner Bill. Her free-spirited sister, Patsy, a single mom who needs Pru's help. And the owner of the diner in her funky Washington, D.C., neighborhood, who is going through his own painful breakup.

Nice to Come Home To is the debut novel of radio producer Rebecca Flowers, whose commentary has been featured on National Public Radio. It's an incredibly satisfying, quirky story about what makes a family. Flowers has created a deeply memorable character in Pru, whose warm heart and wry humor infuse every page. Pru serves as a sweet reminder that happiness isn't found in a day planner - it can come from the most unexpected sources.

Amy Scribner finds happiness with her family in Olympia, Washington.

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