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Bill Warrington's Last Chance Hardcover – August 5, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1 edition (August 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067002161X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021611
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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, Marcy and April care for Marcy's 79-year-old father, Bill, a Korean War vet and retired salesman now suffering from Alzheimer's. Bill has his heart set on bringing his family together for a reunion, but with this looking ever unlikely—his two sons are perpetually out of the picture—Bill and April take off for California, where April plans on joining a band and Bill imagines he can force a reunion. Along the way, April fends off the lecherous creeps, Bill slips increasingly into his mental twilight, and Bill's children rise above their family dysfunction and band together. The spirited interplay between the gruff but wounded Bill and the perhaps too precocious April provides the most sensitive scenes in this enjoyable first novel. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

King’s debut spotlights one dysfunctional family whose patriarch seeks to heal old wounds. Bill Warrington’s wife died of cancer years ago, but he’s managed pretty well by himself until recently. Now that he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Bill decides it’s time to bring his estranged children together while he still can. Mike, the eldest, believes he saw Bill give his mother an overdose of pain pills before she died, and has distanced himself from his father for years. Nick is still drifting aimlessly since his own wife died three years earlier. He leaves interaction with their father to their sister, Marcy, a bitter divorcée struggling to raise her 14-year-old daughter, April, who can’t wait to escape her mother’s domination. Bill hatches a plan to “kidnap” April for a summer road trip (with her at the wheel), and drops clues along the way in hopes the siblings will unite in the effort to find them. Part road odyssey, part coming-of-age tale, King’s novel achieves the exact right balance of humor, redemption, and reconciliation. --Deborah Donovan

More About the Author

James King lives in Connecticut with his wife and their two children. "Bill Warrington's Last Chance" is his first novel.


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
This book will stay with me for a long, long time.
Margaret M. Smith
There were many stereotypes in the characters and I didn't think that many of them evolved enough to overcome those stereotypes.
Completely original story, great characters, well written.
New Bride

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Bristol VINE VOICE on July 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The book is somewhat deceptively described as a "road trip novel," the actual trip doesn't begin until 100 pages in. However, that turned out not to matter. Veteran and father of three adult children, Bill Warrington is beginning to develop Alzheimer's. Because his granddaughter April wants to visit San Francisco (in order to become a famous singer), and his three children aren't close to each other (or him), he arranges a trip with her without telling her mom. However, he provides clues to their destination for his three children which can only be pieced together by collaboration.

This book fulfilled all my criteria for a great read: flawed but likeable characters, well-paced, showing rather than telling, and the author answered the question some neglect mainly: Why should the reader care about these characters? What's the point of sticking it out until the end with them?

i read so many books, particularly first novels, in which the author seems to be working overtime to convince me of his/her cleverness, precocity and ability to use Very Big Words where a simple one would do fine instead. It's not that I don't enjoy "flowery" language or unique metaphors, just not to the point where it becomes prententious. As a writer myself, I know that "just telling a story" and making it look seamless is a lot harder than it looks, and I applaud Mr. King for bringing it off here.

(Note to Hollywood: Stop doing remakes of eighties movies and Saturday Night Live sketches and consider optioning this instead. Please.)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Baker VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Beatrice Fairfax TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a fictional tale of Bill Warrington, a curmudgeonly Korean War vet in the early stages of Alzheimers. Bill is a widower with three adult children Mike, Nick, and Marcy with whom he shares relationships which are to various degrees contentionious for a multitude of reasons. The novel introduces us to Bill as he is experiencing the worsening effects of Alzheimers. He has lucid moments that in a flash disappear.
Bill's 'last chance' refers to his last opportunity to reconnect to his kids before his mind is totally gone. Bill takes off on a roadtrip with his granddaughter April (with whom he shares an indifferent and distant relationship) to San Francisco where April aspires to be a rock star. Along the way, April and Bill forge a new understanding while Marcy (who is April's mother, sets off on a frantic search with her brothers to catch-up to Bill and April and bring them home before something awful occurs.
Within the narrative of the book, the reader is given insights into the fragile relationship between Bill and his kids. Family secrets and hurts are exposed and the impact of the loss of Clare (Bill's wife) when the kids ranged from ages 17 to 12 is revealed to have fundamentally caused Bill to shut down and lose himself to drink.
This book is well-written. Character development is fairly good and Bill's losing battle with Alzheimers is handled with accuracy as his constant memory gaps continue to pop up throughout the book. It is easy to follow, without being excessively wordy and it is engaging from the get-go.
Combination road trip meeets family reunion,I thought this was an interesting premise for a story of reconciliation and thought it was well done and was not overtly wordy or filled with empty narrative.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Holly TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bill Warrington has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and chooses not to share that information with his three estranged, adult children. Bill does not have a good relationship with any of them nor with any of his grandchildren. His wife died when the kids were in their pre-teen through teenage years and he dealt with his grief by drinking. He largely leaves them alone as they grow up, other than to provide food and shelter. When he does make the effort to interact with them, it doesn't go well since he is a gruff, ex-Marine who says whatever he thinks without regard to the feelings of the recipient. Each of his children have different reactions to their developmental years, but none came out unscathed and there is a lot of resentment toward Bill and toward each other. Bill's idea is to "kidnap" one of his grandchildren (with her own rebellion issues), taking the 15-year-old across the country and leaving clues that force his kids to work together in order to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The Alzheimer's advances more quickly that Bill hoped and the road trip has some very scary moments as Bill moves in and out of lucidity.

This is James King's first published novel and it doesn't read that way. He manages to take the fairly unsympathetic character of Bill and writes about him in such a way that one minute you want to slap him for his insensitivity and then next to hug him close and comfort the hurting man he is. The same is true for Bill's daughter, Marcy. Sometimes irritating, sometimes heart wrenching, the people that populate this novel come alive through the writer's pen.

I really only have two complaints - there is a graphic scene in a convenience store involving his granddaughter (April) that will cause part of the reading population to be offended.
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