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Bill Warrington's Last Chance

3 Ratings: 4.0
A book by James King

This nicely tuned road trip novel from 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award–winner King begins in Ohio, where April Shea is a pigheaded 14-year-old girl who experiments with pot and constantly squabbles with her single mother, Marcy. Together, … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: James King
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Viking
Date Published: August 2010
1 review about Bill Warrington's Last Chance

Excellent Family Saga

  • Aug 1, 2010
Rating:
+4

Bill Warrington is an aging curmudgeon who has estranged his three children over the years, especially after losing his beloved wife to cancer when the kids were young.  She was the ballast that kept the darker sides of Bill’s personality in check, and without that he drifted into alcoholism and as his children became adults they mostly abandoned him, with the exception of his daughter Marcy.  The children also mostly abandoned each other and have very emotionally distant relationships with each other.

Marcy has her own foibles to deal with as she struggles to raise her headstrong 15 year old daughter April as a single mother.  April feels oppressed by her mother’s overbearing control over her life and the two are in constant battle.  April finds a kind of solace in her aging grandfather who is losing his memory and is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s that appears to quickly progress during the novel.

Nick, the middle child, recently lost his wife as well.  While of the three children he is the most emotionally steady, he is also a bit naïve as he struggles to overcome his grief and move on with this life.  Mike, the oldest, is the most despicable character of the three.  He is a serial philanderer and user of women, despite having a successful career and a beautiful wife and children.

In an attempt to bring his three children together, Bill sets off with April on a road trip from Ohio to California.  As April and her grandfather travel across the west we see April confronted with very adult, and sometimes dangerous situations that she must cope with on her own because of the declining mentally abilities of her grandfather.  As the strange bond between the two grows, we see April literally growing up as Bill slips further into mental fogginess and she essentially becomes his caretaker on the road.  This relationship is a fascinating juxtaposition of the aging and dying Bill with his coming of age granddaughter.

Meanwhile, Bill has set a plan in place to reunite his children in their search from him and April.

This is a well written and entertaining novel.  Throughout the author lets us into the fractured lives of this unusual family.  The author does and excellent job with characterization, showing the good and the bad of each family member in ways that builds some empathy from the reader (with the possible exception of Mike).  And the story does an excellent job of portraying the single mother and teenage daughter relationship in a way that neither is entirely right or wrong in their grievances against the other. 

Overall, this is an excellent novel about a fractured family that Bill has one last chance to make whole.

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