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Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Bill Warrington’s Last Chance
James King

Viking, 2010

Bill Warrington has many regrets. Too many, maybe. The past isn’t something he can change, regrets or not, but maybe he can change the future. When Bill learns he has Alzheimer’s, he wants to change things with his children, before it’s too late.

Marcie, Bill’s only daughter has about had it with her daughter, April. April is fifteen and a royal pain in the neck. Marcie is a single parent trying to keep things together, despite the constant roadblocks she gets from April. She is also her father’s primary caregiver and the constant need to check on him, clean up after him, and shop for him and just about worn her out. This is why she is secretly thrilled that April and her father have started spending so much time together. It gives her a break and seems to make them both happy – something she has given up on ever happening.

The reason April and Bill have started spending so much time together is a secret. Bill is teaching April to drive, despite the fact that she is only 15 and has no driver’s permit. April and her grandfather have a pact that they will always be straight and honest with each other, but April suspects her grandfather hasn’t been totally honest with her regarding his plans or why he keeps forgetting who she is. In any event, she is thrilled when he announces one day that they are driving to California, where she hopes to become a singer-songwriter, but the trip turns out to be way more than she bargained for.

There were some problems with this novel:
1. Bill and April are fully fleshed out, but Nick and Mike, the brothers, are just shadows. There is an attempt to give them some depth, but their short back stories don’t really give them any motivation for their behavior. Marcie has a little more to her, but she still feels like half a person.
2. The plot has a good start and builds to a compelling climax and then fizzles out to a dead end, leaving the reader feeling like a popped balloon.
3. The reading experience is enjoyable but forgettable. The characters are unoriginal, the plot is predictable, and the setting is inconsequential. I was sufficiently entertained by the story as I read it, but then I promptly forgot it when I finished.


This is the author’s first novel.

Other titles you may enjoy:

Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen (1991)
In this novel about a large Irish-Italian family in the late 1960s, young Maggie Scanlan begins to sense that, beneath the calm, everyday surface of her peaceful suburban life, everything is going mysteriously wrong especially during one summer that changes their lives.

Brass Ankle Blues by Rachel Harper (2006)
Embarking on a season at her family's summer house with her father and an estranged cousin, multi-racial teen Nellie Kincaid encounters first love, shifting family loyalties, and an emerging sense of self that raises her awareness of her diverse heritage.

My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman (2006)
Chafing under the claustrophobic care of her liberal parents, Frederica Hatch finds her snug world transformed by Laura Lee French, a new college dorm mother who had once been married to Frederica's earnest and unglamorous father.

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