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 Penguin Reading Guide for Bill Warrington’s Last Chance.another_great_group_shot

  1. In what ways are the Warringtons a typical contemporary American family? In what ways are they unusual?
  1. What makes Bill such a sympathetic character in spite of his crustiness and confusion?
  1. After April gets in an accident while driving her grandfather’s car, Marcy yells at her: “Don’t tell me to chill. Do you have any idea how terrifying it was to get that phone call to come to the hospital? I’m in the middle of a meeting and I get this call and I have to rush to the hospital not knowing anything. Not knowing if you were alive or — ” To which April replies: “Uh, Mom? Since I’m the one who called you, I’m not sure you had to wonder if — ” (p. 77). In what ways does this exchange typify their entire relationship?
  1. Bill swears that he did not euthanize his wife, Clare. His son Mike believes that he did. Does the novel make clear what actually happened?
  1. Late in the novel, Marcy reflects: “That was the difference. . . . Women wear their pain; men simply disperse it among the dirty socks and underwear and fast-food wrappers. And bottles” (p. 240). Is she right? Is what she says true in terms of the male and female characters in the novel? What might account for the different ways men and women handle their pain?
  1. How has Bill Warrington differently affected the lives of his three children — Mike, Marcy, and Nick? In what ways are they playing out the same family dynamic in their own lives?
  1. How does her road trip with her grandfather change April? In what ways is it an initiation into adulthood? What are the crucial turning points in her journey toward a greater sense of self?
  1. What is the “last chance” referred to in the title? Does Bill Warrington seize his last chance?
  1. What are some of the funniest moments in the novel? What role does humor play in a book like this?
  1. To what extent is the Warrington family reconciled by the end of the novel? What rifts and fissures have been healed, at least partially or provisionally?
  1. What does Bill Warrington’s Last Chance say about the large themes of grief and forgiveness, aging and death, the desire for freedom and the need for connection?
  1. How does the novel match up with your own experience of aging parents or grandparents? What aspects of aging does it illuminate with special vividness?