THE LAST EXIT TO NORMAL
New York : Knopf, 2008
Since his father came out and his mother left, spiky-haired skateboarder Ben Campbell has gotten into trouble. In order to put him on the right path, his two dads move the family to rural Montana where city-born Ben finds animal carcasses, trucks, a tough country grandma, a cute farm girl, a town villain, and a troubled kid. (Florida Teen Reads nominee, 2010)
Ben Campbell is angry and wants everyone to know it. Three years ago his life changed dramatically when his dad came out of the closet, his mom split, and Edward (his momdad) moved in. Ben started skipping school, smoking pot and constantly getting into trouble. Now to straighten him out, his dads have moved them from Spokane to a small town in rural Montana to live with Edward’s mother. Spiky haired Ben doesn’t fit in with the cowboys in Rough Butte. Miss Mae, Edward’s mother, seems to be working him endlessly. Ben is sure the neighbor is abusing his son. Oh yeah, there is a beautiful girl he would like to date.
Will Ben get over his anger
at his dad; can he help the boy next door; will he get the girl of his
dreams? Read Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon to find out.
Life was going along just fine for Ben Campbell until he hit fourteen. That was the year his father announced that he was gay and his mother left. His dad’s boyfriend moved in, and Ben started counseling — and also misbehaving.
Now, after three years of run-ins with the law, Ben’s dad has decided the only way to save Ben is to leave Spokane. At age seventeen, city boy Ben finds himself living in Rough Butte, Montana. Edward, who Ben calls Momdad, has agreed to take them back to the hometown he left when he was Ben’s age. In Rough Butte, Ben is surrounded by homophobic cowboys, Edward’s acid-tongued mother, Miss Mae, and an abusive neighbor with a strange young son.
Used to doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants, quickly ends for Ben as Miss Mae schools him in acceptable country behavior. She expects respect and hard work, and she doesn’t hesitate to use her wooden spoon as a weapon to encourage it. Ben reluctantly falls in line and even finds it rewarding at times. His father and Edward seem pleased for the most part, and his improved attitude and behavior are useful in his quest to attract the attention of the beautiful girl living just four doors down the street.
There are still frustrations
for Ben. Completely forgiving his father for trashing his life back in
Spokane is proving harder than he expected. Rough patches between father
and son keep tensions high, and to complicate matters, Ben becomes convinced
that the young neighbor boy is the victim of dangerous abuse. Ben’s efforts
to seek justice for the boy create a whole new set of problems.
Fathers and sons -- Fiction.
Homosexuality -- Fiction.
Interpersonal relations -- Fiction.
Child abuse -- Fiction.
Coming of age -- Fiction.
Montana -- Fiction.