Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review : The Last Exit To Normal by Michael Harmon

Book Details:
  • Format: Hardcover Library Binding, 288 pages
  • On Sale: March 11, 2008
  • Price: $18.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-375-94098-9 (0-375-94098-7)
  • Category: Young Adult Novel

It’s true: After 17-year-old Ben’s father announces he’s gay and the family splits apart, Ben does everything he can to tick him off: skip school, smoke pot, skateboard nonstop, get arrested. But he never thinks he’ll end up yanked out of his city life and plunked down into a small Montana town with his dad and Edward, The Boyfriend. As if it’s not painful enough living in a hick town with spiked hair, a skateboard habit, and two dads, he soon realizes something’s not quite right with Billy, the boy next door. He’s hiding a secret about his family, and Ben is determined to uncover it and set things right. In an authentic, unaffected, and mordantly funny voice, Michael Harmon tells the wrenching story of an uprooted and uncomfortable teenage guy trying to fix the lives around him–while figuring out his own.

My review:
I never expected to like this book, much less love it, as it's not in my usual reading scope. However, surprisingly, I was hooked from the very beginning. This novel has an unusual theme that allows readers to delve into the story right from the first page.

Everything was fine for fourteen-year-old Ben Campbell until his dad stepped out of the closet and announced that he is a gay. Ben's peaceful world was ripped apart and his mom left. Ben got some counseling, but he misbehaved and rebelled, and after a few times, his dad decided to move to a small town in the middle of nowhere - Rough Butte to stay with Edward's mom, Miss Mae.

Miss Mae made Ben to adapt the ways of country people and changed his behaviour with her threatening (and sometimes real) punishments. Ben became respectful and hardworking after a series of 'intensive training' under the supervision of Miss Mae. Ben was attracted to Kimberly Johan, a beautiful girl in the area. He tried to win her heart, and finally, she became his girlfriend.

Ben found out that he couldn't forgive his dad completely, and his relationship with his dad strained even more after a fight between them. After discovering the Hinks family's secret, Ben was determined to help Billy (Ben's young neighbour) to escape his abusive father's non-stop torturing and achieve real happiness. Things were not so smooth with Ron Jamison, the famous teen-villain in town. By chance, Ben found out that something was not right about Ron and he realized that must stop Ron's aggressive, psychopathic ways to make sure nothing bad happens.

This story made me laugh at times - which I seldom do when I read books, and sometimes, I feel the suspense in the novel, and I always wonder what will happen next. I was really touched when Ben said he felt his father's love for him and vice versa in a simple way which touches the reader's heart so easily and naturally. This book is funny, exciting, touching and original at the same time. You will find yourself captivated by Ben's unusual experiences. In this story, Ben learned of love, acceptance, and responsibility. Michael Harmon did an excellent job in capturing a teenage boy's rage, his rebellious acts and emotions, and how he metamorphose from an adolescent into an adult. This book is a MUST-read!

A heartfelt thanks to Jodie Baker @ Book Gazing for sending me a copy of The Last Exit To Normal! I won this book on her blog.

Rating : 10/10

Buy The Last Exit To Normal from:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / Random House

Also by Michael Harmon : Skate

Visit Michael Harmon's Website

1 comment:

Jodie said...

So glad you enjoyed it :)