Plucky. It's got to be one of my least favorite ways for a reviewer or a blurb (or however you are hearing about a book) to describe the book's heroine. It's overused and doesn't seem to mean the same thing to other people as it does to me. BUT, for some reason, it just fits Hope, makes me reconsider my dislike of the term. (You know how they always show that scene of Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, when she goes in for the interview and he says "You've got spunk. I hate spunk"? But then he doesn't wind up hating her? Kind of like that.) Hope is a plucky kind of kid - her mom is a flighty woman who comes and goes as she pleases, leaving Hope with only her waitressing wisdom; her dad never showed up in the first place, and she & the aunt who loves and raises her move around a lot, working hard and somehow still coming up short. Then they wind up Mulhoney, Wisconsin, trying to make the Welcome Stairs Diner into the best in the whole of the country, and find themselves in the middle of much more than they expected. The owner of the diner, who has leukemia, has decided to run against an incumbent mayor whose corruption is both pervasive and threatening. Hope learns a lot about political game playing, being a good person & an active citizen, and how to truly connect with the people around her. It's a quick read, but strong all the way through: I liked these characters, even when you knew it wasn't going to run smoothly for them, especially when you knew things were about to get tougher. Because they stood up.