Multiple Listings: A Novel

Multiple Listings: A Novel

by Tracy McMillan


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From Tracy McMillan, an author who counts both Oprah Winfrey and Tina Fey as fans, Multiple Listings is a comedic family drama focusing on a single mother whose ex-con father is released from prison after seventeen years and unexpectedly moves in with her, her son, and her much younger boyfriend.

Nicki Daniels owns a home appraisal business, but real estate is her true passion: she lives for open houses and really knows her way around a floor plan. And especially at this juncture of her life, real estate has come to signify the stability she is trying to build with her teenage son, Cody, and her much younger boyfriend, Jake. She’s finally ready to find the perfect house for the three of them and work on a new business venture with Jake that she thinks will jump-start their lives together.

Meanwhile, Ronnie, a longtime inmate at a nearby correctional facility, is getting some good news for once—there was a mistake in his sentencing, and he’s finally eligible to get out of prison. Ronnie decides his best option to avoid homelessness is to move in with his estranged daughter: Nicki. Even though they haven’t spoken in years, her door is always open to him, right?

Harkening to the work of bestselling author Maria Semple and imbued with wit and profound insight into relationships, Multiple Listings speaks poignantly—and often hilariously—about the ties that bind families of all types together.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476785530
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 12/06/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Tracy McMillan is the author of the memoir I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway, as well as Why You’re Not Married...Yet, based upon an essay she wrote for the Huffington Post that went viral. She has appeared as a relationship coach on the NBC reality show Ready for Love and on talk shows, including the Today show and Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. In addition to her books, Tracy has written for the Emmy Award–winning AMC series Mad Men, as well as Showtime’s United States Of Tara. Multiple Listings is her first novel.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Multiple Listings includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Nicki Daniels hasn’t seen her dad in seventeen years. So why is he standing at her doorstep?

As a result of having absent parents growing up, Nicki matured into a strong-willed and hardworking individual. Everything she earned was of her own doing. Now, she owns a successful home appraisal business and is eager to branch out into new ventures. At this point in her life, Nicki feels ready to settle down and has decided that real estate will provide her with the stability she seeks. Poised to kick-start the next chapter of her life, Nicki partners with her much younger boyfriend on a new business opportunity while looking for the perfect house for them and her teenage son, Cody. Unbeknownst to Nicki, her long-estranged father is about to throw a wrench into her plans.

Multiple Listings is a comedic family drama filled with heart and unexpected insight into family dynamics. Fans of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? will appreciate Multiple Listings’s wit and profound redefinition of what it means to be a traditional family.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Multiple Listings opens with a prologue that finds Ronnie ringing the doorbell at the house of his daughter, Nicki, whom he hasn’t seen in seventeen years. But the story then flashes back to nine days earlier. What is the purpose of the prologue? Do you find it necessary? Is it a proper introduction to the story?

2. Why is Nicki so hesitant to accept Ronnie back into her life considering the fact that he is an asset around the house and wants to sincerely redeem himself from his criminal past? Do you think her trepidation is warranted?

3. Explore the topic of criminal rehabilitation in the novel. When Ronnie first arrives at the re-entry facility, Melissa says to him, “Let me start by saying very few guys in this place ever successfully make it back into the world. . . . And I doubt you will, either” (page 46). Is Melissa just being harsh, or is this a scare tactic? Do you think a rehabilitated criminal can make a successful transition back into society without a support system? Can a person truly change?

4. Examine Peaches’s role in Nicki’s life. Nicki compares her friendship with Peaches to a marriage, saying, “I read once that the first ten years of a marriage are a power struggle between the couple—each person vying to get the other one to do things their way—and after that people sort of just accept the other person for who they are. That’s pretty much where Peaches and I are now—I accept her. She’s an exhibitionist, she likes having—no, making—people look at her. Even though she sometimes embarrasses me, I get it: that’s Peaches” (page 63). Would you characterize their friendship the same way? Why do you think Nicki compares their friendship to a marriage? Do you want, or have, a friend like Peaches?

5. Why does Nicki’s relationship with Jake unravel? Did Jake just give up on their relationship? Were they ever truly in love?

6. When Ronnie informs Nicki about Jake stealing money from her towel closet, Nicki is immediately distraught. In an attempt to calm her down, Ronnie says, “We didn’t do our jobs as parents and I know that affects you still” (page 156). As a result, Nicki recalls her fascination with clocks, saying, “When I was small, I spent a lot of time looking at clocks. Right now I know why. Because the clock was the only safe place to look. When things are going down around you, just look at the clock. It’s like an island in the middle of chaos. The second hand sweeps around the face. You can get lost in it going around and around, and you’re not afraid of anything. You don’t feel anything” (page 156). Why did Nicki’s conversation with Ronnie spark this memory? What can you infer about her childhood?

7. How is Nicki’s relationship with Alex different from her relationship with Jake?

8. While discussing childhood photos, Cody makes a pointed observation. He says to Nicki, “I’m thinking about how you only have one picture of yourself. And I have no pictures of me with my dad. We’re a family of pictureless people” (page 217). How devastating do you think it was for Nicki, as a mother, to hear Cody’s revelation? How does Nicki’s upbringing mirror her son’s?

9. Consider Ronnie’s perspective on gender roles throughout the novel. After first meeting Melissa, he thinks, “What a woman wants is a guy who has the potential to abandon her exactly like Daddy did, but then doesn’t” (page 51). Later, Ronnie says, “Men evolved to be attracted to violence. It’s how we survived” (page 122). Then, when offering advice to Cody, he says, “No one knows better than me that men who live and die by a woman’s approval are still little boys inside. Being okay with your decisions no matter who approves is the first thing a guy has to learn if he wants to be a man” (page 230). Why do you think Ronnie has such strong opinions about relationships between men and women? Do you think Ronnie’s time in prison influenced his opinions? Could he hold these beliefs due to the lack of a strong female presence throughout his childhood? Do you agree with him?

10. Were you surprised that Ronnie and Peaches had sex? What drew the two of them together? For Nicki, their romantic tryst was the ultimate betrayal. If you were Nicki, would you be able to forgive them? Could you trust either of them again?

11. How would you describe Melissa’s role in the novel? Although she was introduced as a serious and straightforward professional, she quickly allowed herself to be swept away by Ronnie’s charm. Was she naïve to think Ronnie was interested in a relationship? Why? Were you surprised that she ultimately seeks revenge on him?

12. In an effort to help his daughter, Ronnie decides to enlist a favor with his former associate, Mal. Ronnie asks Mal to discontinue Nicki’s real estate deal on her new house, which she’s been hoping will fall through. In return, though, Ronnie will be indebted to Mal until he assists him with a favor of his own. Ronnie trusts he is doing the right thing, saying, “A man does what he has to do to take care of his own” (page 287). Is Ronnie’s request an honorable act or an irresponsible one? Could Ronnie’s deal with Mal be a gateway to his old life of crime?

13. Discuss the structure of the novel. What’s the effect of alternating between Nicki’s and Ronnie’s perspectives? Did learning about their past help you better understand each of them as individuals? How has their relationship evolved throughout the course of the novel? Did your feelings about Ronnie change as you learned more about him? How about Nicki?

14. When Ronnie visits Beth, he is ashamed of her inability to feel love for their daughter. He says, “She is missing something so key, so crucial to being human. She’s missing the ability to put another person before herself. She’s missing the ability to open her heart—at all. I want to cry for the twenty-two-year-old man in me who went to this woman to get love. I want to cry for my daughter. My heart aches for her” (page 313). Why is Beth so damaged? Does she somehow redeem herself in the end? Do you think Beth’s relationship with Nicki can ever be repaired?

15. In his election speech for Junior Class Board, Cody refers to his relationship with Ronnie, saying, “I didn’t know who I could be until I got inspired by someone who taught me that there’s more to life than getting money and playing Magic: The Gathering. Someone who showed me that no matter what you’ve done in your life—or haven’t—it’s never too late to turn it around” (page 321). How has Cody progressed throughout the novel? Can his boost in confidence be attributed to Ronnie’s influence?

16. Explain the significance of the novel’s title. What does Multiple Listings mean? How does real estate represent Nicki’s sense of identity? Does she finally feel settled by the end of the story?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Read Piper Kerman’s poignant memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison to learn more about the life of a prisoner in a federal correctional facility. Then watch the popular Netflix show of the same name. Do you feel like you have a better sense of what prison life is like? How do you think a women’s prison compares to a men’s?

2. Nicki loves to read The New York Times wedding announcements every Sunday. She is fascinated by all of the different couples. For your next book club meeting, have each member bring their favorite wedding announcement to share with the group. Which couple caught your eye? What did you particularly like about their story?

3. Cody’s favorite hobby is to play the card game Magic: The Gathering. Consider hosting a game night with a group of your friends and choose some of your favorite board games to play for a fun night in.

4. Online dating is so prevalent today—that’s even how Nicki met Alex. At your next book club gathering, throw a dating-themed evening with good food and lots of wine. Have everyone share some of their funniest or most memorable online dating experiences.

Customer Reviews

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Multiple Listings 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Bookaholic_Cindy More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! What would you do if the father who has been in prison for 17 years unexpectedly shows up at your front door? I'd most likely panic! How the author made the main character react did not disappoint! The author manages to give us both a humorous and heart felt story. Her life is going well, a boyfriend, buying a house and raising a teen age son. Like so many single parents, she has struggled and worked hard to get where she is. This was a well developed storyline that held my interest from beginning to end. Looking forward to more from this author. I highly recommend this book! * I received a copy of this book from a Goodreads Giveaway and NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion.
bumblebee23 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It was a very easy read about a father getting out of federal prison and trying to reconnect with his estranged adult daughter. I was a little torn with the rating because I felt like more should have been explained at the end. Some characters never really got to finish their part of the story. However the central characters were very entertaining to read about and leave me giving the book a solid 4 stars. Fast and entertaining read.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts I escaped right into this novel. First we meet Nicki, a real estate appraiser with a 16 year old son, Cody, and a boyfriend, Jake, that is 11 years her junior. Things seem to be on track. They are looking for a new house and are opening a restaurant together. Then we meet Ronnie, Nicki’s father who has been incarcerated most of her life. He is being released from prison and needs to have a place to live and a job or he will violate his parole and be sent back. He wants to reconnect with his daughter and meet his grandson. He just hopes she will let him live with her. The chapters alternate narrators between Nicki and Ronnie and I really liked that. Their own point of views to the situations made them easy to identify with. We were able to see each character develop separately and together and their relationship struggle and grow. I knew very early in the story what the ending would be because the story followed a very natural progression. There were a few surprises along the way, like Ronnie’s parole officer. That woman was in the wrong job and needs some counseling of her own. We also have Peaches, Nicki’s very outspoken best friend. She brings some humor and drama to the story. When I was asked to review this book I thought it was going to be a light read full of humor. It does have a humorous side but the book has so much more. Nicki’s family was clearly dysfunctional but she turned her life around and is very successful in her own right. Yes, she does have relationship issues with men but she was clearly getting grips on that as the story continued. Her son, Cody, also matured before our eyes as he and Ronnie got to know each other and built their relationship. Ronnie is a very smart man, both from all the books he read in prison and through his life lessons. It was a joy to watch him interact with both Cody and Nicki and become the person he hoped to be with all the bumps along the way. I loved this story. Definitely one for my keeper shelf. I am a sucker for a book with flawed characters and a happy ending.
Xkoqueen More than 1 year ago
Multiple Listings by Tracy McMillan is a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting read. Nicki has had a rough childhood. She doesn’t remember the good stuff; she can’t see it through all the dark shadow of the disappointments and abandonment. Her absentee father has made her wary of relying on a man. She is strong, independent and determined to make a good life for her son, Cody. Ronnie is a good person at heart, but in the past he was seduced by the siren’s call for money, women and material goods. After his latest stint in prison, he’s remade himself. He’s by no means perfect, and those siren’s still call him, however, he knows a relationship with is daughter and grandson is what he truly wants. He’s searching for actualization along with a job to meet the requirements of his parole. Secondary characters Miguel, Peaches and Melissa are developed just enough to serve significant purpose in Nicki and Ronnie’s story. Jake and Alex, Nicki’s romantic interests, seem to represent the good and bad choices she has made in her personal life. Delightfully, Nicki’s love life is a secondary story line that is used to show her evolution once she opens her heart and her house to her estranged father. The plot of Multiple Listings is evenly paced, and the story is engaging. The story is told in dual POV, and readers get ample evidence of both Ronnie and Nicki's regrets, second-guessing and hopes. Ms. McMillan has peppered her story with quirky characters—many lovable and a few despicable. I loved this lightweight story of regrets, forgiveness and second chances. There are a few hanging threads in this story that I found completely forgivable because life is messy that way; readers who need every little detailed wrapped up, may find those few dangling threads annoying, but I say they should follow Ronnie’s advice to let go and enjoy the present. I loved Ronnie’s calmness and his sage advice. His subtle influence on everyone in his life is charming. Ronnie’s re-entry into Nicki’s life is healing to both her and her son. She is happier, playful, and less uptight. Nicki’s hobby of going to open houses is a great analogy for the solid foundation she is looking for in her life. Nicki is not really interested in houses, she is looking for a home, and she finds one when she opens her heart and her life to her far-from-perfect father. Multiple Listings by Tracy McMillan is an uplifting, feel-good read.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
This book was so unique. It's a mix of novel and self-help book. And I loved it! Told in alternating chapters in the two main characters' voices, McMillan has woven together a humorous yet intense family drama and insightful relationship advice. Nicki is 37 years old. She almost has it all - a successful career, a wonderful yet somewhat aloof teenage son, and a great boyfriend. But then her son gets suspended from school for truancy, her boyfriend flakes out on her, and her father shows up on her doorstep after 17 years in prison. She's mad at him for abandoning her over and over during her life, and she doesn't want to let him in again. Ronnie, her father, has spent his most recent time in prison studying psychology and developmental biology. He has healed himself and gained a wealth of knowledge about human behavior. He is ready to start his life over again and make amends with his daughter and get to know his grandson. This story is about family, the good and the bad. The characters were raw and real and very well developed. The writing was funny and compelling, and I couldn't bring myself to read anything else once I started this book. Usually I have 3-4 books going at a time, and I couldn't tear myself away from this book to spend time on anything else. I loved everything about it - the writing, the story, the characters (well except for Nicki's whining sometimes). McMilla rounds out the cast with a couple great minor characters as well. Cory is Nicki's son, and he's obsessed with Magic: The Gathering, which I have played, so that was fun. Ronnie and Cory develop a close bond and their relationship added so much to this story. Peaches is Nicki's best friend. She's kind of a mess, but she's always been there for Nicki. She's her reality check for any big decisions she needs to make. I enjoyed their banter. I didn't always agree with Ronnie's choices, and as I mentioned Nicki sometimes drove me crazy, but I loved reading about this healing family. And the psychological insights added so much to the characters and my level of enjoyment while reading this book. Everyone may not like McMillan's writing style, but it worked 100% for me.
PennieM More than 1 year ago
What a fun romp that takes us through a roller coaster ride with a single mom of a teenage son who is dealing with her father who is an ex-con and shows up at her door. What reads as a comedy and a lighthearted book is a an absolutely fun read to brighten up any day. The characters are well written and the cliches are hilarious! **Received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book a lot. I held my breath a lot through this hoping that Ronnie did not get sent back to where he came from. It was a great story about love, family, the loss and renewal of family and how people you love can take advantage of you without you knowing about it. The story was well written and I loved the characters. They came together and made a great, if not unusual family. I loved how Ronnie brought Cody out of his teenage angst and really brought out his personality. I sincerely enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading books about life, people, hard times and good endings. Huge thanks to Gallery, Threshold, and Pocket Books for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. This was definitely a fun, entertaining and great read!
Sweetpea53 More than 1 year ago
I was gifted a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It took me awhile to really get into the book but once I did, I really enjoyed it. The book is written from two points of view… Nicki who is a single mom with a 16 year old angst ridden son and Ronnie who is Nicki’s dad who was just released from prison after 17 years. The chapters alternate between the points of view which kept me from becoming bored with just one perspective. Nicki is a successful real estate appraiser who loves looking at homes. She is fascinated with open houses and she creates imaginary scenarios for the homes she views. She makes an observation that maybe her fascination with homes is a sign that all she ever really wanted was a home. She comes from a dysfunctional childhood.. absent father (see above) and an emotionally absent mother. Nicki is financially stable but seems to attract unstable and unsuitable men in her life. Ronnie is released from prison unexpectedly and Nicki balks at letting him become a part of her life. He has spent his time in prison reevaluating his life and wants to do “right” by her and her son, Cody. He steps into fill the shoes of the missing father in Cody’s life and begins to rebuild his relationship with his daughter. This is a story of healing, of second chances and of self-discovery. Situations arise in the book which cause Nicki to draw on an inner strength she did not know she had. She comments that she has learned that the universe has three answers: (1) yes (2) Not now and (3) I have something better in mind. At the end of the book, you see how that has played out in the story.
DaneWeimMama More than 1 year ago
An easy & light read that is entertaining for what it is- chick lit at its very core. The main character in the book is Nicki who is dating a younger man, raising a teenage son, & trying to juggle work, love, & family life. Then her ex-con father comes to visit which adds to her stress but in some ways helps her son become a better adjusted teen. Jake, the boyfriend, turns out to be a jerk, & Nicki is left single again. Like I said- this was an easy read which I enjoyed after a long week but there were some things I took issue with.... the permissive attitude towards drugs & alcohol in regards to her teenager being the biggest. ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.