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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reading For Craft

Welcome to Last Chance

How can you resist a title like that? What kind of story will it tell? We are all drawn to different genres for the special insights they offer according to our reading whims. Some of the reasons I enjoy a good contemporary novel are to visit other places, meet new characters, or feel at home in a family or friendship. And sometimes get a flavor of how other people might handle the ups and downs of life. Especially when critical choices loom. Seasoned novelists offer these getaways with complexity and satisfaction. However it’s not often to see such a high level with a debut novelist.

However Cathleen Armstrong hits the mark with her invitation to this fictional small town in New Mexico. Along with Lainie Davis we find ourselves stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Some town residents would like a little more highway traffic to come through their town and others prefer the anonymity. To any local outsider its only claim to fame is the Dip’ n’ Dine roadside diner. For other outsiders it’s a place to drive through on the way to anywhere else.

Lainie is on the run, from her past and maybe even herself. She knows how to hide in big cities like Los Angeles, but how does she stay hidden in a small town where gossip is faster than speed dial. At first she stays because she must, then she stays because the people offer her a home-style life she never had. The charm captures her and finally she prepares to stay because she really wants to—except what will she do if her past catches up with her. This really is her last chance.

Welcome to Last Chance is Lainie’s story, but the small town does truly weave its own charm with unexpected twists and turns. I am really glad to know there will be more opportunities to visit it again and step back into the complexities, secrets, and hope that Last Chance offers as shelter on a dusty highway.

Quirky characters. Small town ambiance. Danger and decisions.

This is the best kind of contemporary novel.

Share: What do you look for in a good contemporary novel?

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