Charlotte “Charlie” Brooks (Natalie Coughlin) lives with her single mother Marie Brooks (Natascha McElhone) in a small beat up apartment.
She is awakened by cooking that smells like heaven, to find a stranger named Mr. Church (Eddie Murphy). Charlie doesn’t like this mysterious man in her house.
Marie agrees with Charlie to get rid of Mr. Church until she finds out he was hired by Marie’s deceased ex-lover to take care of her for six months because she has breast cancer and only has six months to live.
Six years later, Marie is still living and Mr. Church has become a fixture in the household. Charlie (Britt Robertson) is a senior in high school and she is now aware of her mother’s cancer.
Charlie grows distant from her mother and closer to Mr. Church, because of her inability to come to terms with Marie’s impending death. Marie lives long enough to see Charlie go to prom with her dream guy Owen (Xavier Samuel), but dies soon after.
Mr. Church stays with Charlie after Marie dies. Charlie gets accepted to Boston University but cannot afford to attend. Mr. Church gives her an envelope containing five thousand dollars for tuition – the money he saved from coupons Marie gave him. Charlie runs into Owen sometime later and he tells her he is going away to college.
Two years later a pregnant Charlie shows up on Mr. Church’s doorstep and asks to live with him. He accepts as long as she keeps out of his business. Charlie notices how Mr. Church comes home drunk and has matches from a place called Jelly’s. A drunk Mr. Church finds her snooping, they argue, and he tries to throw her out for breaking his rules. She leaves and runs into her old friend Larsen (Christian Madsen) at a store parking lot.
A kid on a skate board hits Charlie and knocks her down knocking her unconscious. Larson, who is banned from operating a vehicle due to a previous accident, nevertheless drives her to the hospital just in time. Mr. Church comes to the hospital and takes Charlie back with him. Charlie gives birth to a baby girl named Izzy (Mckenna Grace), and she and Izzy live with Mr. Church. Charlie gets a job as a waitress.
Five years later, Mr. Church becomes sick. Charlie takes him to the doctor, but Mr. Church dies of an enlarged heart. Charlie finds Owen again, and they get back together. Charlie meets the owner of Jelly’s and finds out that Mr. Church played the piano there. The film ends with Charlie writing the story of her life with Mr. Church.