Harmon, Michael. The last exit to normal.

Author:Rosser, Claire
Position:Young adult review - Brief article - Book review

HARMON, Michael. The last exit to normal. Random House, Knopf. 275p. c2008. 978-0-37584098-2. $15.99. JSA *

Harmon is the author of Skate, a highly praised first novel. In The Last Exit to Normal, the narrator is Ben, an angry young man. Most of his anger has been caused by what he sees as his father's lies and betrayal. His father was married and fathered Ben, but a few years before this story begins, Ben learned that his father is gay and that his real love is another man. This dissolved the family and caused Ben to go on a tear. In an effort to rein Ben in, his father and Ed, the boyfriend, go to a small town in Montana, and live with Ed's elderly mother. Harmon brings all his skill to this situation, with each character so well realized, so quirky, so individual. Ed's mother is a terror, and yet as her personality is revealed, we understand how very complicated and how honorable she is. Ben eventually is transformed by this culture shock, and by a beautiful girl who makes him want to be a better person. A subplot involves a truly disastrous father-son situation next door where an...

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