The List of Last Chances is a sweet novel about two women travelling across Canada from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. They’re not a couple; in fact, Ruthie just became uncoupled when her partner Jack chose another woman. Kay March, seventy-two, is a widow and her son David in Vancouver, B.C. figures as she ages, his mother ought to live closer to him.
David places an ad for an “experienced care attendant” to drive his mother across the country in a minivan. Thirty-eight-year-old Ruthie applies and gets the job .
Ruthie had been employed by Just Like Family, “a seniors homecare agency,” until she spent too much time on the couch, drinking copious amounts of wine, following her break-up with Jack. She gets it together enough to take on the assignment and meets Kay a couple of weeks before they set off together. She helps Kay pack up her old house.
David has an itinerary planned for them and Kay has her own list of things to see and do along the way. Kay calls her to-do list “last chances.” I appreciated reading about an older female character who visits a sex shop, gets a new hairdo, reads three Canadian writers, meets new people, and goes dancing. It’s not all fun and games: Kay pines for a lost love when they stop at a cottage where she had spent time many years before.
Kay will arrive in Vancouver in her own good time. She’s the one with gumption in the pair and it’s a delight to see an older woman pursuing her passions and creating her own itinerary. Ruthie, although she’s the one driving, is really along for the ride.
For Ruthie, there are second chances. The van breaks down and there are other mishaps along the way, but Ruthie gets to see parts of Canada she’s never seen: the prairies, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. A flirtation begins between her and David via text and Skype. And there are new possibilities available to her in Vancouver.
The adventures aren’t death-defying and there isn’t a mystery to be solved. The book is like a letter from a friend, which is why it was a joy to read something fun though quite ordinary.