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The Last Chance Texaco    by Brent Hartinger order for
Last Chance Texaco
by Brent Hartinger
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTempest, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The Last Chance Texaco is simply an amazing book. From the moment I picked it up, I did not want to put it down. Brent Hartinger does an incredible job of drawing the reader into the life of his main character. 15-year-old Lucy Pitt is, in many ways, an average teen: struggling to fit in with friends, and rebelling against grown-ups. However, Lucy is not your average teen she has been moved through a series of group homes since her parents died in a car accident when she was seven. This tragic childhood has greatly influenced her current hard and bitter mood.

Lucy thinks Kindle House will be just like all the other group homes in which she has lived. Soon after arriving, she begins to notice that there is something different about it, not just the fact that it is the last stop before an orphanage that is equivalent to a juvenile detention facility (thus earning Kindle House the name 'The Last Chance Texaco'). Unlike most of the adults Lucy as encountered in The System, the counselors at Kindle House really do care about the kids living there. When Lucy realizes this, she is determined to stay at her new group home, which is why she decides to catch the arsonist who is setting car fires in the neighborhood. The citizens and authorities believe that the fires are being set by a group home resident and want it shut down. Lucy is determined to prove them wrong and keep her home, even if it means breaking a few rules in the process.

Brent Hartinger has created a strong and likeable protagonist in Lucy. Sure, she may have a few problems (don't we all?), but she is determined to rise above conflicts even if it means going against everything she currently believes. In the end, Lucy drops all the masks that she has hidden behind her whole life and emerges a better person. While most of us have not had the challenging upbringing that Lucy experienced, we have shared her feelings at some point in our lives. This connection with the main character is what makes Brent Hartinger's Last Chance Texaco a wonderful read.

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