Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the drama of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A reluctant bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this tiny town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?
1. Lainie has been on her own since she was fourteen and has learned that she can’t trust anyone. How have her early years prepared her for what she found in Last Chance? How have they helped? How have they hindered?
2. When Lainie’s car starts falling apart on the highway, she begs “whatever god looked after exhausted women driving broken down cars through the hot desert night” for a few more miles. We know that at this point Lainie has no real relationship with, or even a clear concept, of God, but how involved do you think God was in guiding Lainie’s steps up to that moment?
3. While she considers herself much more wise about the ways of the world than the residents of Last Chance, in the beginning Lainie is every bit as limited in her world view as the most provincial citizen of Last Chance. What are some ways she gets it wrong?
4. Fayette and Lainie, despite seeming different from each other in every way, become the closest of friends. What do you think each brings to the relationship? How does each enhance the other in this friendship?
5. Ray says he doesn’t go to church because it just “seems weird to be serving drinks till 2:00 a.m. and then turning up at 9:30 for Sunday School.” Is this a cop out, or do you understand his reticence? Having met the members of the Church of Last Chance, do you think there would be a problem? What would you say to him?
6. On the surface, Ray seems relaxed and unflappable. Where do you find evidence that there might be more going inside than he lets on? Why do you think he keeps disappointment and frustration to himself?
7. When Matthew Hall is involved in a serious alcohol-related automobile accident, Les Watson—and a good portion of the population of Last Chance—believes Les was to blame. How much responsibility for the accident do you think does rest on Les’s shoulders?
8. The theme of Welcome to Last Chance is redemption and certainly Les Watson and Lainie herself come to mind when thinking of those who need another chance. Who else in Last Chance is in need of redemption? Do they realize it? Do they find it?
9. Do you know anyone like Elizabeth? Like Juanita? How have they affected your life?
10. Is there a single point in the story where you see Lainie make a decision or take an action that shows she is not the same woman who limped into Last Chance in the middle of a hot summer night? Did you see evidence that this change was coming before it happened? What was the first hint that she was beginning to see things differently?
11. It’s clear that being in Last Chance changed Lainie. How did Lainie chance Last Chance?
12. How was the setting, a tiny ranching town set in the middle of the desert, important to the story? Could Lainie’s story have been the same elsewhere?