Ella became a goal-driven woman before it was fashionable, or even acceptable. In spite of her mother's constant admonitions, Ella rejects the expectations put upon the “young ladies” of the 1950s. Her life will be decided only by her own choices, and she knows exactly what choices to make. She has a job she enjoys and a man she knows she will marry…just as soon as he realizes that as well. Most importantly, she nearly has the resources and certainly the desire to leave the too-small town of Backus, MN, forever.
But all that she has mentally built for her life comes to a swift end when a handsome but off-putting stranger arrives, and stubbornly refuses to leave. Joe starts working her job in The Diner, gains the respect of the town, and challenges all she once believed—and does it with such grace and charm that she almost can't despise him for it.
Fifty years later, Backus hasn't changed much. The Diner remains, the town newspaper, the Backus Blab, continues to live up to its name, and there are still certain people in the town who are wary of strangers. Jane hopes to fit in, but her bustling world in the Twin Cities was far from sufficient preparation for life in this seemingly quiet town.
The talkative Rosie quickly introduces Jane to Backus, creates a position for her on the teen-run newspaper, and enjoys the willing listener she finds in Jane's soft-spoken nature. Still, life in Backus is not as uneventful as it seems, and as Jane begins researching the town's silenced past, she discovers that love, mysteries, and faith cross generations.