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The Last Chance Texaco Hardcover – February 17, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (February 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060509120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060509125
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,685,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10--Lucy Pitt is 15 when she is sent to Kindle Home, a group home and her last chance at a semi-normal life. If she makes any errors, she'll be sent to the high-security facility known as Eat-Their-Young Island. Kindle Home is different from the other places she's lived, primarily due to the dedication of the counselors and the way in which they connect with the kids. Lucy realizes that she wants to stay there, and although she manages to weather the consequences of her own impulsive tendencies, she can't control the lack of funding that threatens the Home or the arson that is causing the neighbors to become even more leery of having such an establishment nearby. Readers will root for Lucy and come away with a greater understanding of the complexities of group homes and their inhabitants. Hartinger excels at giving readers an insider's view of the subculture, with its myriad unspoken rules created by the kids, not the system. There is a touch of romance and mystery, and while those elements may be a lure for less sophisticated readers, the memorable aspect of the novel is the way it takes readers inside a system most of them have never experienced.--Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-10. Hartinger's first novel, The Geography Club (2002), was a poignant high-school story. Here the setting is Kindle Home, a run-down mansion in an upscale neighborhood that's used as a group foster home for troubled teens. Lucy lost her parents in a car accident when she was seven, and in her affecting first-person narrative she tells how she has screwed up ever since. This is her last chance before a punishment center. Hartinger clearly knows the culture, and Lucy speaks movingly (if occasionally too therapeutically) about her anger and grief as well as about the other troubled kids. But this is more than a situation; there's a deeper story, as Lucy falls in love with a rich kid in the local school (first they fight, then they kiss). Best of all, however, is the mystery: who is setting cars on fire in the neighborhood? One of the Kindle kids? A neighbor who wants the school closed down? A hostile therapist? The romance and realism sometimes knock heads, but the talk is lively, and the tension of the whodunnit will keep readers hooked to the end. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

I am Brent Hartinger, and I live to write.

For the last twenty years, I have made my living writing just about everything that involves words.

My most famous book is probably my 2003 gay teen novel, GEOGRAPHY CLUB, which was adapted into a feature film starring Scott Bakula, Marin Hinkle, Ana Gasteyer, Justin Deeley, and Nikki Blonsky. It was released in selected theaters and on VOD on November 15, 2013.

Geography Club is now the first book in the Russel Middlebrook Series. In order, the stories in the series are: GEOGRAPHY CLUB (book #1); THE ORDER OF THE POISON OAK (book #2); DOUBLE FEATURE: ATTACK OF THE SOUL-SUCKING BRAIN ZOMBIES/BRIDE OF THE SOUL-SUCKING BRAIN ZOMBIES (book #3); THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE (book #4); TWO THOUSAND POUNDS PER SQUARE INCH (a free short story)

For the record, I try hard to write books that people *like* to read. The most frequent comment I get from readers is that my books are "page-turners," which makes me very happy, because that is exactly what I want them to be. If I had to describe my own books, I would say, "Strong central concept, strong plot, strong character and voice, and usually lots of humor." (I may not always *succeed* in creating these things, but they're what I always strive for.)

My biggest complaint with books I hate is that they don't get to the point (or, worse, they don't have a point!). I get frustrated that so many books have a cliche or overdone central concept, or that they're all atmosphere and world-building (or "beautiful language," in the case of some literary novels) with no real story.

Basically, I see myself as a storyteller. I think the important thing for a writer is to get out of the way and just tell the damn story.

Sure enough, my second great love is screenwriting and playwriting. I've won lots of screenwriting awards and have several movie projects in very active development.

Meanwhile, my plays have been performed at dozens of theaters. And I adapted GEOGRAPHY CLUB into a stage play, which has now been produced all over the country.

In addition, I'm the co-host of a bi-weekly podcast, Media Carnivores, which covers media-related news and opinion (and also honest writing advice and updates on my career).

I sometimes teach writing, in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College and elsewhere.

And I also do a fair bit of charity work, including a brand new enterprise, The Real Story Safe Sex Project, using entertainment and pop culture to help gay teens and twentysomethings fight HIV/AIDS.

I live in Seattle, Washington, with my partner since 1992, Michael Jensen. Michael is also a writer, the author of two terrific gay westerns, Frontiers, and its sequel, Firelands. Together with our friend Sarah Warn, we co-founded a very successful entertainment website called that was eventually acquired by MTV/Logo (but we don't work there anymore).

I answer all emails (eventually), so if you have a question or a comment, if you want to buy a signed edition of one of my books (free shipping in the US!), or if you're interested in having me speak to your school or group, contact me through my website: (There's information about my fees, etc., here.)

My "Official" Biography

BRENT HARTINGER is the author of a number of novels, mostly for and about teens, including GEOGRAPHY CLUB (HarperCollins, 2003) and three sequels: THE ORDER OF THE POISON OAK (HarperCollins, 2005); DOUBLE FEATURE: ATTACK OF THE SOUL-SUCKING BRAIN ZOMBIES/BRIDE OF THE SOUL-SUCKING BRAIN ZOMBIES (HarperCollins, 2007); and THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE (Buddha Kitty Books, 2013).

His other books include THE LAST CHANCE TEXACO (HarperCollins, 2004); GRAND & HUMBLE (HarperCollins, January 2006); PROJECT SWEET LIFE (HarperCollins, 2008); and SHADOW WALKERS (Flux Books, 2011).

A feature film version of his first novel, GEOGRAPHY CLUB, was released in November 2013, co-starring Scott Bakula, Ana Gasteyer, and Nikki Blonsky.

Hartinger is also the author of many award-winning screenplays and plays, including a stage adaptation of GEOGRAPHY CLUB, which has received regional productions in Salt Lake City, Edmonton, and many other places. Three more of his screen projects have been optioned for film and are in various stages of development, including his screenplay of his award-winning play THE STARFISH SCREAM.

Mr. Hartinger's many writing honors include being named the winner of the Lambda Literary Award; a GLAAD Media Award; the Screenwriting in the Sun Award; the L.A. Comedy Festival Screenwriting Award; the Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award; and a Book Sense Pick (four times).

Hartinger is the co-host of the Media Carnivores podcast, a sometime-member of the faculty at Vermont College in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and the co-founder of the entertainment website, which was sold to MTV/Viacom in 2006. In 1990, he co-founded one of the country's first gay youth support groups, in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. He also founded and currently runs the Real Story Safe Sex Project.

He lives in Seattle with his partner, writer Michael Jensen.

Customer Reviews

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The place sounds like a genuine hell.
I came across this book at my local library, trying to find good books to read.
Great story, great characters--Lucy was so easy to fall in love with.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Nicole on July 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I had to read this book for my summer reading program for school, and at first I was thinking, "This is a book the school picked out, so it isn't going to be that good. I mean they don't know what kind of books us teenagers are into. All they like are them old boring books." Man was I wrong. This was one of the best books I have ever read. I loved it. Lucy is just one of those characters that you just bond with. You also feel sorry for her, because of how so many bad things have happened to her in her life. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is a great read for all ages. I finished it in less then three days. I just couldn't put it down. Some nights I even stayed up until four o'clock in the morning reading it. So, for anyone out there wanting to read a great book this summer, I recommend this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Kelly Wilson on January 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Overall, I truly enjoyed "The Last Chance Texaco"--interesting title, nice cover, compelling premise, solid writing, an appropriate presentation of the types of issues a teen might face in the child welfare system for adolescent readers, a bit of a mystery, and a convincing and relatively unexpected conclusion to that mystery. Now, realize, I'm writing as an adult reader (also, an adult reader with a bit of experience in the child welfare/juvenile justice arenas.), but here's what I would've liked to have seen handled differently. Mainly, I was thrown by those things that seemed unrealistic or were outright unbelievable (e.g., no teen girl could show up at a juvenile detention facility, claim to be a relative, and be let in with no questions asked--much less be allowed personal contact). I wish Nate had been a more three-dimensional character--more than "rich, good-looking guy who falls in love with Lucy starting with a punch in the mouth and the offer of Happy Meal trash"--that way, I could've suspended disbelief as their relationship went from fisticuffs to kissing in the matter of days.

(Thanks, Brent Hartinger, for the chuckle as Lucy and Nate detailed what unlikely things they'd found while picking up trash.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book, so much that once I started reading it, I could not put it down. If you liked "Geography Club", you will like this as well. I was trying to decide which one I liked better, but to be honest, I couldn't decide. GREAT second novel. Keep up the good work, Mr. Hartinger!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cammykitty on April 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I first saw this book in the YA section of a hole-in-the-wall mystery store. I started asking questions about it, and got an excited "isn't it just darling. I'm not sure if it's a mystery, but just look at it. It's darling." Brent, if you are reading this, don't worry. I'll set the record straight for you.
It is not "darling." It isn't quite "gritty" either, (too much warmth for that) but it is much closer to gritty. The title "Last Chance Texaco" refers to a group home for troubled orphans that is the last stop before a prison-style group home. Lucy, the main character, moves in and instantly sees all the types she's known from group homes in the past -- the mole, the scheming alpha female, the rude alpha male, the prey. The book is worth reading just for the dynamics within the group home, but the story goes farther than that. And yes it is a mystery.
The book also has great, tell-it-like-it-is details. Example: love over a happy meal. Here's one fantastic passage: "I knew that I had bigger problems than just starting school in the middle of the year. Almost everyone was white. It's not like I'm racist or anything. It's just that the only time kids in a public school are almost all white is when they're mostly rich. And believe me when I say that it's rich kids, and the parents of rich kids, who have the biggest problem with a kid from a group home going to the same school they do."
My real rating for this is 4 1/2 stars. The last 1/2 I'm holding back, because there were some times I wish Hartinger had pushed his narrative a little farther, or where I wanted more of the great details that are in other parts of the book. Definitely worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jesser2004 on June 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book at my local library, trying to find good books to read. I'm glad I picked this book up because it was a well-told story about a girl that happened to be a misunderstood orphan.

This book is about a 16-year-old girl that has gone from foster home to foster home because of her behavior. She then comes upon THE LAST CHANCE TAXACO where she has one more chance to straighten up her act before she ends up in a place where she won't get out until her 18th birthday, Eat-Their-Young-Island. Lucy is the type of person that pushes people away because she thinks she can't trust them, but then she gets into a fight with a pretty-boy jock who soon becomes her partner in picking up trash. Their relationship is a little rocky, but it soon picks up when she stops pushing him away. She also makes enemies. One is Joy, another girl at THE LAST CHANCE TEXACO, who just thinks that she can get anything she wants when she wants it.

Soon, Lucy and her boyfriend, the pretty-boy jock, have a case on their hands with the neighborhood car fires. And the cops think the Kindle Home kids have done it. Lucy tries to find the arsonist, and gets help from unexpected people.

I really enjoyed this book with its quick wit and amazing characters. Lucy is a headstrong girl that is so dependant, that she pushes people away so easily, she doesn't even realize it. I also loved this book for its realistic twist. Nothing was left to chance, and I like that about a book.
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