Ryden Malby has planned her academic life since she was in high school to get a college scholarship; now she has just graduated in English and in her master plan she expects to get a job as assistant editor in the publishing house Happerman & Browning, in Los Angeles. Her platonic best friend is Adam Davis, who has a crush on her and is frequently close to her. However, her arrogant classmate Jessica Bard gets the position and Ryden is forced to return home in the suburb to live with her family: her optimistic father Walter, who wants to do everything by himself; her careful mother Carmella who administrates the short resources of her family; her eccentric grandmother Maureen; and her weird little brother Hunter, who wants to race in a boxcar derby. Ryden unsuccessfully seeks a job and feels frustrated, but is emotionally supported by Adam. When Walter accidentally runs over the cat of his next-door neighbor David Santiago with Ryden's car, they visit him to give their sympathies. Ryden feels attracted by the handsome Brazilian and has a brief affair with him, forgetting Adam, who decides to move to New York to study at Columbia Law School. Meanwhile Ryden is invited to join Happerman & Browning and discovers that feelings cannot be planned.