The Last Chance Texaco
Brent Hartinger's The Last Chance Texaco is another of my
slightler older (2004) book sale finds. It's one of those gritty but
inspiring novels that has a teen reader walking in the sneakers of a
peer whom her/his parents would probably write off as not having
friendship potential or being potentially too dangerous to reputation,
if nothing else.
Lucy, Hartinger's protagonist, has been in foster care since she
was seven and her parents and brother died. (Her sister was adopted.)
After eight years of being shuttled around in the system she considers
herself to be a lost cause. Her placement in Kindle Home as her story
begins confirms in her mind that society, or at least the segment of
it that deals with foster kids, shares her opinion.
"Kindle Home became a group home in the 1960's. And, from the
start, it was the group home for the kids who'd screwed up again and
again, but who supposedly still had one last shot to turn things
around. It wasn't a big, barren dessert that came after our Last
Chance Texaco--it was a high-security facility for teenagers called
Eat-Their-Young Island (officially Rabbit Island), the place for the
foster care system's truly hopeless cases."
Lucy is sure that it's only a matter of time until she moves on
to the Island. She isn't even going to unpack her stuff. Why
bother? Her initial observations confirm her suspicions. She gets on
the bad side of a bully in the house. The in house therapist seems
skeptical about her chances of not messing up. A fight with a boy
from a well-off family brings her to the attention of the zero
tolerance public school principal.
Lucy is a gutsy protagonist who by age fifteen has had to deal
with more heartbreak than many adults. Her discovery that the
impossible dream of belonging may not yet be beyond her grasp makes
for gritty but joyous reading.
On a personal note, I am still battling fleas. At the vet's today,
buying another spray can of flea spray, I heard about animals being
brought in who were sick from more potent products bought at big box
stores. If you have a flea infestation and animal companions PLEASE
stick to vet approved products.
A great big shout out goes out to people who give kids like Lucy a
Julia Emily Hathaway
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