Last Chance Texaco

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Overview

The guy looked at me with a stare that would have frozen antifreeze.
"You the new groupie, huh?"
"Yeah, I said. "So?"
"So no one wants you here. Why don't you go back where you came from?"
I can't go back, I wanted to say. That was the thing about living in a group home. there was nowhere for me to go but ...
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Overview

The guy looked at me with a stare that would have frozen antifreeze.
"You the new groupie, huh?"
"Yeah, I said. "So?"
"So no one wants you here. Why don't you go back where you came from?"
I can't go back, I wanted to say. That was the thing about living in a group home. there was nowhere for me to go but forward.

Brent Hartinger's second novel, a portrait of a subculture of teenagers that many people would like to forget, is as powerful and provocative as his first book, Geography Club.

From the author of "Geography Club" comes a portrait of a subculture of teenagers living in a group home they call the Last Chance Texaco. The group home is the last stop before kids are shipped to the juvenile detention center. When a series of local arsons threatens to close it down for good, Lucy Pitt must expose the real criminal or risk losing her last chance for happiness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hartinger (Geography Club) once again gets at the heart of teen dynamics with this tale of 15-year-old Lucy Pitt, who has been in the foster care system for eight years. As the novel opens, she arrives at Kindle Home, known as the Last Chance Texaco, like "those gas stations... [that come] right before a big, barren desert." According to narrator Lucy, the group home is a kid's "last shot to turn things around" before being sent to a prison-like facility derisively nicknamed Eat-Their-Young Island. The premise is unique, and Hartinger creates a strong sense of group home life by breaking down the rules-both those the counselors enforce and those the kids uphold for each other-and with snapshots of such scenes as troubled Roberto having a "meltdown" at dinner and Lucy sorting out her feelings for a boy as she shoots baskets with counselor Leon. The author convincingly portrays Lucy as someone who wants to come across as jaded, but who realizes the run-down mansion is "almost like a real home." The future of that home is jeopardized, however, when someone starts setting neighborhood cars on fire, and the group home kids become primary suspects. While readers will easily empathize with Lucy, other elements of the novel, such as the development of her romance with Nate, a "jock" at her new school, seem fake. Unfortunately, the mystery over the car fires further derails the story from its focus on Lucy's transformation. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2004: The author writes at the end of the book, "My stint as a group home counselor was short, but long enough for me to come to profoundly respect the dedication and the great sacrifices of the adults who make careers in foster care, and the amazing strength and courage of the kids they oversee." This is the story of one such group home, known as "The Last Chance Texaco" because everyone knows if a kid doesn't make it here, the only place left in the system is the equivalent of juvenile prison. Lucy Pitt is the narrator, a foster child who has known only chaos since her parents were killed in an accident, leaving her an orphan, a ward of the state. One situation after another didn't work out and now she is in an old house meeting counselors unlike others she has known. Perhaps these adults really are trying, especially Leon, who once was a foster child himself. There is more of a family atmosphere in this place, but most of the teenagers have serious problems. Lucy is smart, but changing schools so frequently and enduring the tension of being a new girl so often, with the added shame of being a foster child, hasn't given her much of an education. She has a record of addiction to painkillers, and she has been in fights often, so she is on the edge of disaster. Other girls in the foster home are eager to destroy her and get her kicked out of the place. It's a tough situation. At school she meets a guy who she hates at first, even to the extent of getting into a brawl with him: both are put into detention and in the month-long process of having to stay after school to pick up trash, they become friends. At this point, the story developsinto a mystery: someone is setting cars on fire in the street near the foster home, all are under suspicion, and it seems the place will be closed down. Lucy undertakes the task of finding the culprit and saving the home, and her new friend from school helps her out. The denouement and the final outcome are surprising but satisfying. Lucy is a strong heroine, one YAs will quickly respect. The story is a tough one, with some strong language, but it is a believable description of what life is like in group homes for teenagers in the foster care system. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, HarperTempest, 228p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
VOYA
Hartinger, author of The Geography Club (HarperCollins, 2003/VOYA April 2003), delves into the psyche of a fifteen-year-old foster youth. Lucy knows that she is "past the Point of No Return, and no counselor or therapist or foster parent ha[s] the time or energy to spend on a lost cause." Kindle Home is referred to as The Last Chance Texaco because it is the last stop for problem teens before being sent to the high security facility called Eat-Their-Young Island. But Lucy discovers that Kindle Home is different. There is a sturdiness about the old rundown mansion and about the staff, especially Native American counselor Leon, who as a foster youth survived Eat-Their-Young Island, and Ben and Gina, the young couple who run the home. The wealthy high school students do not welcome the group home teens, and Lucy slugs Nate for his disparaging "groupie" comment. Because of the altercation, both Lucy and Nate end up on trash detail. At first a guarded friendship develops and then a romance. Lucy becomes a hero when she rescues Yolanda, who has been torching cars in the neighborhood, but she cannot save Kindle Home from being sold. Although a bit abrupt, there is a happy ending to Lucy's story when Ben and Gina adopt her. Over all, Hartinger does an excellent job of addressing the "lost cause" feelings of a teen trapped in the foster care system. Readers will root for Lucy as she fights for her new life. Offer this one to teens who liked E. R. Franks's America (Simon & Schuster, 2002/VOYA February 2002). VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004,HarperCollins, 240p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—Ruth E. Cox
Children's Literature
Lucy is a troubled teenager who has landed in a group home called Kindle Home, which she dubs "The Last Chance Texaco" because it is literally the last chance she will have before being sent to Rabbit Island, a high-security juvenile prison. Lucy's parents died in a car crash when she was young. Since then, she has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. Each time that she trusted someone or got close to another person, she was disappointed. Now, because of these negative experiences, she is suspicious of everyone who seems to care for her. In addition to severe behavior problems, she is addicted to OxyContin. Kindle Home turns out to be different, though. One of the counselors, Leon, was himself sent to Rabbit Island, so he knows what it's like to be in trouble. He genuinely cares about Lucy, but she cannot accept his caring. Add to this background a mystery: Who is setting cars on fire trying to get the group home shut down? Lucy finds herself in the middle of it all. The writing is crisp and fast-moving. The characters are completely believable. Hartinger is a full-time writer whose compassion and empathy for teenagers is apparent. The book is fun reading for anyone, and may be quite inspirational for a teen struggling with similar problems as Lucy and the others in Kindle Home. 2004, Harpertempest/HarperCollins, Ages 12 up.
—Kathy Egner, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 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 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This is teenage Lucy Pitt's last chance: Sent to yet another group home, she struggles to fit in because if she screws up here, it's off to a notorious last refuge for hopeless incorrigibles. Lucy's not one to be cowed easily-getting shunted from one foster family to another for most of her life has seen to that-and she shows herself to be smart, plucky, and resourceful. A love affair ensues with a rich guy from the local high school as the foster home is permanently closed and she and her boyfriend solve the mystery surrounding a spate of neighborhood arsons. Teens will, for the most part, root for Lucy and her exploits and boo and hiss on cue for some of the really rotten characters. Not everyone will buy all of this, though. The romance doesn't ring true, and the story's ending will strike some as corny, if somehow satisfying. The mysterious arsonist will come as a surprise, however. A fair-to-middling read for not-very-discriminating readers. Some graphic profanity. (Fiction. 13+)
Joan Hinkemeyer
Hartinger draws on his own previous experience as a group-home counselor to write a fast-paced, riveting story filled with multi-dimensional characters who command our admiration as they struggle against their personal demons…This book should have wide appeal to parents and adolescents alike. Grade: A -- Rocky Mountain News
Diana Tixler Herald
After dealing with kids in the system for 17 years and living with foster kids 13 years, I look very closely at books about them and usually find them wanting, but The Last Chance Texaco is right on. Hartinger captured the voices of the kids perfectly and portrays [the situation] extremely well. -- Genrefluent
Hazel Rochman
Hartinger clearly knows the culture [of group home life]…The talk is lively, and the whodunnit will keep readers hooked to the end. -- Booklist
Faith Brautigam
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. -- School Library Journal
Lynda Lukow
The Last Chance Texaco has everything a reader could want…Never have I read a book that screamed so loudly to be made into a movie…Don’t pass this one up! -- MyShelf.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060509125
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/17/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.46 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Brent Hartinger has been a full-time author for many years, writing novels, plays, and screenplays. He lives in Washington State. Among his books are Geography Club and its sequel, The Order of the Poison Oak, as well as The Last Chance Texaco and Split Screen. Like Dave and his friends, as a teenager he resisted getting a job for as long as possible but finally was forced by his parents to go to work as a lifeguard at age sixteen. He still smells like coconut sunblock.

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Read an Excerpt

The Last Chance Texaco
By Brent Hartinger HarperTempest Copyright © 2005 Brent Hartinger
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-050914-9


Chapter One The door was locked, and I sure as hell didn't have the key.

I was standing on a front porch, and the door before me was tall and wide and arched, with a fancy black iron handle and hinges, like the door to a church or a haunted house. I should know - I'd been dragged into a whole lot of different churches over the years, and while none of the many houses I'd lived in had actually been haunted, most of them had been plenty scary.

But this wasn't the door to a church or a house like any I'd been in before. No, it was the entrance to this big mother of a mansion looking out over the bay. Years ago, back when this place was the home of Mr. Rich Bastard, Esquire, and his wife, Greedula, the house had probably even had a name. I'm-So-Impressed Manor, or something like that.

But that had been a long time ago, and the door had taken its share of scratches and scuffs since then. The rest of the house had pretty much gone to the dogs too, with peeling paint and crooked gutters and a shaggy yard where all the plants seemed to be overgrown and dying at exactly the same time. So now the place had a different name. Kindle Home. It had a different purpose too, about as far as you could get from the one it had been built for, which was to house filthy-rich people and impress the neighbors. Now it was a group home for teenagers in "state custodial care." Orphans and shit. It also happened to be my new home.

Why am I spending so much time describing this house and its damn front door? Because this is partly the story of that house, and I figured I should start at the very beginning. And unless you break in through a window, which I've been known to do, you first enter a house through its front door. Which, as I've already told you, in this case was locked.

"It's not locked," Leon said. "Sometimes you just need to give it a good kick." Leon was the guy standing behind me on the front porch. He was the Kindle Home counselor who'd picked me up at my former group home that morning to bring me here. He was a little like the house itself, because he hadn't been what I was expecting at all. For one thing, he was Native American. "Lucy Pitt?" he'd said to me thirty minutes earlier, in the front room of my old group home. "I'm Leon Dogman." In group homes, the best way to tell the difference between the kids and the counselors is usually the color of their skin, and just for the record, it's not the counselors who are black and brown and red. Leon was also younger than most counselors, probably still in his twenties, and he had a scraggly black beard and a pierced eyebrow and three visible tattoos.

But even if Leon didn't look like the other group home counselors I'd seen, I knew he'd act just like them. I'd been in the foster care system since I was seven years old - a grand total of eight years - and I knew how the adults operated. The first few times I'd screwed up, back when I was seven or eight years old, everyone had said I'd just been upset over the death of my parents. But I was fifteen now, past the Point of No Return, and no counselor or therapist or foster parent had the time or energy to spend on a lost cause like me.

Leon had said to give that front door a kick, so I gave it a swift one, and what do you know, it opened. Being in foster care as long as I had, I guess I'd learned a lot about swift kicks.

"What'd I tell you?" Leon said. "That's the thing about a big old house like this. Everything is one-of-a-kind. When something breaks, you can't just run over to the hardware store and replace it. So you learn to live with things the way they are." He grinned a little and kind of rolled his eyes. "There's hardly anything in Kindle Home that isn't broken somehow."

I nodded once, trying hard not to look too interested, and pushed my way inside. I found myself in a front room that led off into other rooms - a foyer, I guess they're called. Directly in front of us was this giant carved stairway that flowed down from a landing halfway to the second floor like a great river of wood.

Leon was still right behind me. "Well, this is it," he said. "Welcome to Kindle Home." He didn't overdo it with the phony enthusiasm, which I appreciated.

I glanced around. There were holes in the walls and burns in the carpet, and the smell of Pine-Sol and burned popcorn in the air. What the hell is it about group homes and burned popcorn? But that staircase was pretty cool. And there was this explosion of a chandelier hanging from the ceiling way over our heads. A few of the bulbs were burned out and it was dusty, but the crystal jingly things still sort of sparkled, and I don't think I'd been that close to anything like it in my life.

"Come on, I'll show you around," Leon said. He looked over at my backpack. "You wanna set that down for a second? We won't go far."

"No," I said. It was heavy, but when everything you own fits into one bag, you learn to keep a pretty good grip on it.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Last Chance Texaco by Brent Hartinger Copyright © 2005 by Brent Hartinger. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

Synopsis

Fifteen years old and parentless, Lucy Pitt has spent the last eight years being shifted from one foster home to another. Now she's ended up at Kindle Home, a place for foster kids who aren't wanted anywhere else. Among the residents, Kindle Home is known as the Last Chance Texaco, because it's the last stop before being shipped off to the high-security juvenile detention center on nearby Rabbit Island -- better known as Eat-Their-Young Island to anyone who knows what it's really like.

But Lucy finds that Kindle Home is different from past group homes, and she soon decides she wants to stay. The problem is someone is starting a series of car-fires in the neighborhood in an effort to get the house shut down. Could it be Joy, a spiteful Kindle Home resident? Or maybe it's Alicia, the boney blond supermodel-wannabe from the local high school who thinks Lucy has stolen her boyfriend. Lucy suspects it might even be Emil, the Kindle Home therapist, who clearly has a low opinion of the kids he counsels. Whoever it is, Lucy must expose the criminal, or she'll lose not just her new home, but her one last chance for happiness.

Major Themes and Ideas

  1. People are sometimes very different than they appear at first.

  2. Not everyone starts at the same place in life, and it's impossible to judge another without first seeing things from their point-of-view.

  3. Sometimes to have faith in yourself, someone else must first show faith in you.

  4. There is no such thing as a "last chance," and no human is worthless; in the end, anyone can find personal redemption if they want it.

  5. Being a fully mature, ethical person sometimes means putting the concerns of other people ahead of oneself.

Discussion Questions

  1. At one point or another, Lucy refers to almost all the characters in the book as animals. What does Lucy's choice of animal say about each character? Is she fair? Which animal in the book do you think represents Lucy, and why? What is the author suggesting by giving Leon the last name "Dogman"?

  2. Fire appears frequently throughout the book (e.g. the scenes of smoking, the car fires, and in the final conflict with Yolanda). What does this say about the theme? How is fire used as foreshadowing? What do you think is the significance of the name "Kindle" Home? (Hint: "kindle" has two meanings: to cause to burn, but also to nurture young, especially rabbits.)

  3. At one point, Leon says "There isn't anything in Kindle Home that isn't broken somehow." Is he just talking about the house? In what ways are the other characters "broken"? In what ways is the house itself a metaphor for the setting and the story? How is the house a metaphor for Lucy herself?

  4. Throughout the book, Lucy frequently confronts barriers of some sort: sticky doors, blocked views, crowded or blocked hallways, a Plexiglas window. How do these barriers relate to the story, and what, then, is the implication of the final scene?

  5. All the adults at Kindle Home -- Leon, Mrs. Morgan, Ben, Gina, Emil, and Megan—have very different approaches to their job. What are their various strengths and weaknesses? Which adult had the "best" approach? Which had the "worst"? Is there more than one way to be an effective counselor?

  6. In what ways is Lucy to blame for her situation? In what ways is she not to blame? Is there really such a thing as a "last chance," after which a person is beyond redemption? At what point exactly does Lucy find redemption? What does it mean that she is willing to sacrifice herself to help Nate?

  7. Is Nate a bad person for misjudging Lucy at first? What does it say about him that he is willing to overlook her situation to see the "real" her? Have you ever met someone, only to later learn that they were very different from your first impression? How do the people in your life misjudge others?

  8. The first sentence in the book is "The door was locked, and I sure as hell didn't have the key." What is the key? Did Lucy have it all along, or did someone give it to her?

Suggested Class Projects

  1. Class presentation topic: Have each student pick the animal they think best represents them, and have them describe why.

  2. Many of the characters in The Last Chance Texaco have two identities: a "public" one and a "private" one. Compare and contrast the public and private identities of the following characters: Lucy, Leon, Yolanda, Nate, and Mrs. Morgan. Either individually or as a group, make lists of each character's "public" and "private" qualities. Which character's two "sides" are the most different?

  3. Essay topic: If you were a house, describe what would you look like, and why?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

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(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Good Story

    I enjoyed this book very much. There were several typos and wrong words, editing issues. However, they did not keep me from enjoying the book and cheering for Lucy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    Really enjoyed this!

    Very believable characters. Well-written, other than a few typos/editing issues. They aren't distracting, and you'll be rooting for Lucy and Kindle Home in no time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Good

    Pretty good. Kinda a mystery, kinda a romance, full of every day problems.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Must Read!!

    this is a very good book. read it in 2 days. I wish there was a sequel. I feel sorry for kids in group homes. i am a very lucky kid.

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  • Posted August 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Open the Door of the Kindle Home

    After being transferred from previous guidance homes and other churches for foster care and drug abuse, Lucy Pitt opens the door to yet another foster home, the Kindle Home or in other words "the Last Chance Texaco." Lucy discovers that the Kindle House isn't what it seems to be because the adults and counselors want the best for her. Although most of the adults care about Lucy's existence in the Group Home, she finds that Joy is the instigator of the household and proposes to throw Lucy out. When randomly one night a car sets fire in the middle of the neighborhood's street, Lucy realizes she has far greater problems to face and investigate.

    Daring, affectionate, and intriguing, The Last Chance Texaco carried my imagination to a unique place. Flipping pages delightedly, I learned to not take for granted what I do have, such as a stable family and home. This novel changed my perspective and introduced me to a new one in the eyes of an unfortunate girl my age. The Last Chance Texaco opens the door of suspense to any teenager's mind.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 29, 2009

    Take A Chance

    "Last Chance Texaco" written By : Brent Hartinger is an extraordinary book. With many twists and thrilling moments. Lucy Pitt a remarkable independent character with a strong personality is what makes this book unforgettable. As a teenager things are already tough, but for Lucy things haven't ever been simple. Being in the system for more than 8 years, Lucy is no stranger to how things are.Constantly moving from group home to group home she has no expectations that things will ever change. Living with orphans and counselors, the rules that must be followed are different in here eyes. It's either "follow or lead". Being very stubborn & also aggressive is one of the few issues in Lucy's life. Having no parents or friends she is left with no one. Getting sent to a new group home we're it is her chance to correct her problems & live a different way. With a new path at Kindle Home it is her last stop for her to redeem herself. The counselors influencing that Kindle Home is different, Lucy refuses to except that this can possibly be true. A new counselor who shows her that he knows how it is, and gives her trust makes a big impact on her. Already have been in trouble at school, getting caught with drugs, & one more strike and she will be kicked out. When realizing that Kindle Home is her last chance, also a potential family is it too late to change her ways? If sent to "Rabbit Island" (another group home) all hope is gone. She will be with all the other orphans that are still lost & troubled. If this occurs this will leave her with nothing to look foward to or even the slightest chance that anything postive can come out of life when she grows older. Also with many things clear, being able to take her consequences and trying to straighten up. Other situations appear that tare Lucy's world apart. An arsonist who ruins her chances makes things more complicating. The area of which Kindle Home stays the neighbor's blame this incident on the orphans. With this incident Kindle Home maybe shut down & causing the other orphans to move to another group home. It's up to Lucy to discover and catch this arsonist. While trying to figure out who it is, sneaking out & with the chance of getting caught can put her in the position of being blamed. With these risks she can get and be sent away or even worse put in Juvenile Detention Center. "Last Chance Texaco" a must read drama and action. A non-stop emotion rollercoaster. Being happy for that character and realizing that more hardships will appear is over whelming. Everything in this book is well planned out .One of my all time favorites. If you love reading books or stories about a troubled person with many issues. Consider this book, with a well rounded of everything you can want: Action, Love, Drama and more.

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  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com

    Brent Hartinger has crafted a touching and suspenseful novel sure to capture and hold any teen reader's attention. He knows his craft well, having created an edgy novel about the foster care system with a tasteful, deft touch, ensuring it a wide readership. He has proven that tough issues and hard situations teens face can be portrayed with minimal violence and profanity. <BR/><BR/>Like his earlier novel, GEOGRAPHY CLUB, Hartinger has crafted several sympathetic characters among a microcosm of society's misfits. This novel's group of excluded teens are orphans, kids whose perception of themselves is nearly as negative as their peers at school, who deride them as "groupies" (foster children in group homes). The reader is drawn into their conflicts, both within their own walls, their own psyches, and with society-at-large. <BR/><BR/>The narrator, Lucy, has been a foster child for over half of her life. Kindle Home is the last, "safe" stop for teens like her, for those who have been in trouble. Children who "wash out" of Kindle Home are then sent to Rabbit Island, a place for teens beyond redemption--in the eyes of the system, at least. As a veteran of group homes, she vows to make an effort to fit in at Kindle, which proves to be difficult. Newcomers are viewed as a challenge of the "pecking order" and it isn't long before Lucy is facing serious challenges from others in the home. <BR/><BR/>Her school environment presents another challenge when she is caught in a social caste disagreement with two of her peers. In spite of the odds against them, she makes a friend from one of her earlier antagonists, a person who proves to be a crucial ally when Kindle Home faces community persecution and budget cuts. As the new friends try to find out who has been setting fires in the neighborhood in order to frame the members of Kindle Home, Hartinger provides an unexpected twist when he unveils the perpetrator. <BR/><BR/>With a heart-warming ending, Hartinger proves that edgy young adult fiction can still leave a reader with hope. THE LAST CHANCE TEXACO is suitable even for middle school-aged students. Recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    Brent Hartinger has crafted a touching and suspenseful novel sure to capture and hold any teen reader's attention. He knows his craft well, having created an edgy novel about the foster care system with a tasteful, deft touch, ensuring it a wide readership. He has proven that tough issues and hard situations teens face can be portrayed with minimal violence and profanity. Like his earlier novel, GEOGRAPHY CLUB, Hartinger has crafted several sympathetic characters among a microcosm of society's misfits. This novel's group of excluded teens are orphans, kids whose perception of themselves is nearly as negative as their peers at school, who deride them as ¿groupies¿ (foster children in group homes). The reader is drawn into their conflicts, both within their own walls, their own psyches, and with society-at-large. The narrator, Lucy, has been a foster child for over half of her life. Kindle Home is the last, ¿safe¿ stop for teens like her, for those who have been in trouble. Children who ¿wash out¿ of Kindle Home are then sent to Rabbit Island, a place for teens beyond redemption--in the eyes of the system, at least. As a veteran of group homes, she vows to make an effort to fit in at Kindle, which proves to be difficult. Newcomers are viewed as a challenge of the ¿pecking order¿ and it isn't long before Lucy is facing serious challenges from others in the home. Her school environment presents another challenge when she is caught in a social caste disagreement with two of her peers. In spite of the odds against them, she makes a friend from one of her earlier antagonists, a person who proves to be a crucial ally when Kindle Home faces community persecution and budget cuts. As the new friends try to find out who has been setting fires in the neighborhood in order to frame the members of Kindle Home, Hartinger provides an unexpected twist when he unveils the perpetrator. With a heart-warming ending, Hartinger proves that edgy young adult fiction can still leave a reader with hope. THE LAST CHANCE TEXACO is suitable even for middle school-aged students. Recommended. Five stars. **Reviewed by: Mark Frye, author and reviewer

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    LOVED IT!

    I read this book in a day...I loved it...a friend left it at my house & I had nothin better to do. I wld really recommend you to read it. WOW if you like a little mystery & teen 'love' you will love this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2007

    The Last Chance Texaco

    The Last Chance Texaco is a book about this girl named Lucy and she is at a group home because her parents were killed in a car accident when she was 7. Now she is fifteen and she has gone from group home to group home and now she has arrived at Kindle Home. Lucy has to room with this other girl named Yolanda and then she gets told the rules of Kindle Home. The counselors tell her that if she gets three strikes, she will be sent to rabbit island. Later Lucy gets enrolled into a new school where on the first day, she meets two very mean people, Nate and Alicia, that tell herto go back where she came from but later during the same day she takes a punch at Nate and gives him a black eye. They both get detention for fighting and they have to fill up a whole trash bag every day for eight weeeks. Later in the book during detention they become a couple.In the neighborhood of Kindle Home, there has been car fires and if iot keeps up The children of Kindle Home will be sent away and it is up to Lucy to find out who it is to save Kindle Home without getting caught and her relationship with Nate.To me I believe that this is a book that I would recommend to other kids my age because it may relate to people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    One of the BEST books ever

    If i could i would let everyone one out there know about this book. i think it along with a few other book have pulled me of that hating reading stage and made me love it. hope you enjoy the great book. the Last Chance Texaco.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2006

    An excellent read

    My librarian at my school recomended this book to me, and to be honest I wasn't excited. I really enjoyed this book. It was one of the better books I have ever read!!!! I was very surprised at the very end. The arsonist I had guessed from the beginning, but the end I was pleasantly surprised. It is a great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2007

    wwhooooooot. britt rockssss.

    i found the last chance texaco in our school library and i am glad that i did. this is now one of my favorite books. i like this book so much because it deals with real life situtations. those kind of books really interest me. i could relate to the main character lucy a little bit by the fact that she was being blamed for doing something that she didnt do. i could also relate to her because she was made fun of for being different. this made the book more enjoyable. i enjoyed this book so much, that i read it in one day. the last chance texaco is by far the best book that i have ever read. it was just plain awesome. and very emotional. i would recommend it to a teen audience because it deals with scenerios that teenagers might have to face. such as relationship problems, teasing, accusations, and even losing your parents. it is just an all around great book. HI MS LASLEY!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2006

    The Last Stop

    I recommend this novel to anyone who likes a happy ending, yet one that leaves you hanging. I wanted the story to go on but, unfortunately, it ended but had a great story line. Lucy Pitt, the main character, taught me an important lesson that will be reminding to me at all times when I wish I could be all alone and no one EVER could bother me. She taught me to be thankful for my family and all that I have, because if I lost them I would lose everything and nothing would be the same. I could end up in a 'Last Chance Texaco' and be teased for life. Anyone could, and it wouldn¿t be very fair. Lucy, obviously felt horrible and humiliated whenever she went to a new foster home and school. She was at the last stop, her last chance to do everything right before going to ¿Rabbit Island,¿ a home that is the worst place EVER for fosters to end up. It¿s where you go when you have done too many crimes and been in too many fights. The home that Lucy is in (the setting of the novel) is really, truly her Last Chance Texaco, the last chance to make everything right.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2004

    A Knock-Out Book for both Teens & Adults

    15-year-old Lucy Pitt arrives at Kindle Group Home, the last stop on her eight year journey through a foster care system where she has been bounced around since her parents died in a car accident. She¿s had problems everywhere she¿s gone and been basically labeled incorrigible. One more screw-up, and she¿ll be sent to a prison-like facility until she turns 18. Against her better judgment, Lucy connects right away with Leon, one of the counselors who she finds out later has had his own painful foster care past. When he tells her early on that there is ¿hardly anything in Kindle Home that isn¿t broken somehow,¿ it resonates with the reader. Lucy later says that the home is nothing more than ¿a storage shed for broken teenagers,¿ and she isn¿t too far off. Lucy and her fellow residents have major problems, many of which have to do with having been deprived of love early on. ######### Though only in her mid-teens, Lucy is worn out and on the brink of giving up. She is tired of fighting the other kids; tired of uncaring counselors; most of all, tired of being uprooted continually. So she decides to make an effort to stay at Kindle Home, but right away she finds herself facing obstacles, not the least of which is her own temper. And then things get even more complicated when she gets in a fight at school, one of the fellow residents has it out for her, someone¿s setting fires in the neighborhood, and the funding for the home is being threatened. Can Lucy pull things together and face up to all the issues that are coming down upon her? ######### In this second novel, following his critically acclaimed GEOGRAPHY CLUB, Hartinger has done a marvelous job of bringing Lucy, the counselors, and the kids to life. He¿s written the story in first-person point of view, and Lucy¿s voice is clear and refreshing. You can hear and see her grow throughout the events of the story. From Lucy¿s first line, ¿The door was locked, and I sure as hell didn¿t have the key,¿ until the end of the story when Lucy has managed to find and fully possess all the keys she needs to succeed, I was charmed and moved. THE LAST CHANCE TEXACO is a terrific book geared toward the Young Adult market, but also worthwhile for adults to read, if only to see and understand the world that kids like Lucy Pitt are forced to survive in. Highly recommended.~Lori L. Lake, author of Stepping Out, Different Dress, Gun Shy, Under The Gun, and Ricochet In Time, and reviewer for Midwest Book Review, The Independent Gay Writer, The Gay Read, and Just About Write

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2004

    Hartinger Stuns Teen Audience

    Hartinger delivers an extremly enjoyable story that has readers thinking that they themselves are Lucy, the main character. Lucy is a child delinquent who has been kicked out of so many group homes that there looks to be no future. Lucy is sent to the 'Last Chance Texaco' a place rumored to be the last stop before the dreaded 'Rabbit Island'. Lucy seems to be destined to be sent there but, a group home counsler seems to care so much about her, she starts to care. Lucy becomes happy at the group home, she has friends and a great boyfriend. Yet all of a sudden, there is a mysterious arsonist who seems to be aiming at getting the group home shutdown. Lucy is determined to find the arsonist to save the group home, but the arsonist seems to always elude her. Will the arsonist reign or will Lucy prevail? The ending may surprise you, i can only say I hope you enjoyed this as much as i have

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    Posted March 24, 2010

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    Posted May 10, 2012

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    Posted August 26, 2012

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