Robin Hemley Dotcom
  • Break Away Books, 2012
  • Graywolf Press, 1992 & 1993
  • ISBN: 0253000122 (2012 edition)
  • Order online

The Last Studebaker

In 1963, when Lois Kulwicki's father loses his job at Studebaker along with hundreds of other workers, he acts as if he has just been promoted. He buys a new car (the only non-Studebaker he's ever purchased) and takes his family on vacation. On the way home, Mom dumps Dad at a Stuckey's, and that's the last they see of him.

Thirty years later, Lois has a family of her own, as fractured as her childhood family. Divorced but still living with her ex, she decides to move out with her two daughters and start over but then a stranger named Henry enters their lives. Out of this ersatz family, Lois tries to recover something of what she lost, beginning with a search for her abandoned father. The Last Studebaker is a warmly comic tale of lives changed forever, after the last Studebaker rolled off of the assembly line.


"Hemley's weaving of these lost souls' stories into the Studebaker's failure to capture the American heart and pocketbook could collapse into a clever trick. Yet The Last Studebaker is never gimmicky, and offers hope beyond economic and personal despair. It's not only the Studebaker, but life itself, that evokes rueful glances and missed opportunities, along with tenderness and unpredictable charm." — Rachel Shteir, Washington Post Book World

"In South Bend, Ind., two down-on-their-luck characters, a divorced woman and an addled accident victim, team up to change their fates. Mr. Hemley cleverly uses the now-defunct Studebaker car company... to probe the apparent failure of the American dream." — Cathy A. Colman, The New York Times Book Review

"Hemley draws a quirky road map of the human heart, with all its foibles and dangers." — Publishers Weekly