One thing leads to another and pretty soon you've got a rollicking story with bite. Robin Hemley starts with a fact: in 1963 Studebaker shut down its South Bend plant. Taking the road out of town as a reaction to impending poverty, Lois Kulwicki's father sets in motion a story that's part comedic wisdom and part tragic drama.
Hemley deftly unfolds Lois' story circa 1992 like a popup diorama through which she navigates on partial cylinders and a whiff of ether in lieu of gas. Lois' garage sale-ing misadventures introduce us to a memorable gallery of South Bend characters, and her homefront fiascoes pull us into a black hole of relationships.
Clearly, home isn't a comfort zone and family isn't a safety net. Being kind to strangers isn't necessarily a path to redemption, nor is poking around in the past a solution to screwing up. With relevance to the way today's economy impacts lives in perverse ways, The Last Studebaker is a novel engineered for long life.