Tuesday, July 15, 2008
THE LAST EXIT TO NORMAL by Michael Harmon
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 17 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, ends quickly 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.
It is almost impossible to turn the pages fast enough in THE LAST EXIT TO NORMAL. Michael Harmon's protagonist is one of a kind. Readers will root for him one minute and against him the next as they experience his struggle to accept what life has dealt him. Don't miss this one!