Charlotte “Charlie” Brody (Britt Robertson, Natalie Coughlin as Young Charlotte) lives with her single mother Marie Brody (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 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 the park depressed. A kid on a bike hits Charlie and runs over her stomach causing her to bleed. Larson, who is banned from operating a vehicle due to a previous accident, nevertheless drives her to the hospital just in time. Charlie gives birth to a baby girl named Izzy (Mckenna Grace). Mr. Church comes to the hospital and takes Charlie back with him, and she and Izzy live with Mr. Church. Charlie gets a job as a waitress.