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The Last Exit to Normal

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  955 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
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 bad enough living in a h ...more
ebook, 196 pages
Published March 11th 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jubilation Lee
When our protagonist, Ben, turned fourteen, his dad was like, “Hey, surprise! I’m gay!”

Ben’s mom was like, “Hey, surprise! I’m completely emotionally traumatized by this, and I’m leaving you and also abandoning Ben! Bye!”

And shit has sort of been going downhill ever since.

Now Ben’s seventeen-almost-eighteen, and his dad and Edward (The Boyfriend) are moving the family to Middle Of Goddamn Nowhere Montana to live with Edward’s incredibly ancient and incredibly sassy mother.

Ben doesn’t hold out m
In his old life, Ben did drugs and hung out with the wrong crowd. He was never afraid of getting caught. In fact, he wanted to get caught - just to spite his gay father, Paul. Paul came out to their family about thirteen years too late, and after his announcement Ben's mother moved away. After seeing various therapists and attending numerous counseling sessions, Ben is forced to move to Montana with Paul, and Paul's boyfriend Edward. But it takes time for a city boy to adapt to a country setting ...more
Jan 16, 2009 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teenbooks, lgbt
A very funny and wise book about a teen named Ben whose father comes out of the closet, breaking up his marriage in the process. Ben is not happy and acts out in an effort to give Dad a little payback. But the tables are turned when Ben's Dad decides to move to a small town in Montana, with his new boyfriend, Edward. Edward grew up in this town and the family moves in with his elderly mother, who is a tart tongued tough old bird, not averse to handing out whacks for bad behavior. But despite an ...more
Arya Moaref
Feb 12, 2013 Arya Moaref rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

When Ben reaches the age of 17, his father tells him that he is a homosexual, which causes his wife to leave him. After this Ben spirals out of control by smoking, drinking, and taking illegal drugs. In an effort to save him his father and his lover, Edward, take him to Miss Mae's house. Miss Mae is Edward's mom who is a very tough woman who teaches Ben how to live and how to show respect. The book has a great amount of suspense especially from the moment Ben starts feeling sorry for thei
Dec 11, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harmon, Michael. 2008. The Last Exit to Normal.

The decoder card to the universe wasn't included in the box of cereal God gave humanity. At the ripe old age of seventeen, I'd at least figured out that no matter how hard you try to guess what happens next, you can't. Life wasn't set up that way and we don't like it, so we spend most of our time running around like a bunch of dimwits.

Ben Campbell, our narrator, I must admit, is one of my favorite characters of the year. He makes this book work for
Dec 15, 2008 Dee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ben Campbell, resident of Spokane,Washington, has a lot to deal with as a teen. His dad has come out of the closet and his mom left. He is left with his dad and his new momdad. Ben rebels with drugs and other various acts until his dad and momdad decide that relocation to Rough Butte, Montana might help straighten Ben out. In Rough Butte, they move in with momdad's mom, Miss Mae. Miss Mae makes the story. She is a terrific character and I hated saying goodbye to her @ the end of the story. The s ...more
Jan 07, 2016 713Agatha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon is an absolutely fantastic book. It is about a boy named Ben who's father blows apart his family because he's gay. They move to Montana and Ben has to adjust to his life there but there is a dark secret in the little town and Ben is hell-bent on discovering what it is.
Oct 29, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Last Exit to Normal. The characters were well drawn. I didn't always like the main character, Ben, but I understood his anger and his motivation to do some of the crazy/angry things he did. The story arc was satisfying because there are unexpected moments, a real plot and character development. Ben's anger at his father for coming out as a gay man when Ben was 14, seems very realistic as does his acting out in the subsequent years, the motivating factor for his dad and his "momd ...more
Abby Johnson
Nov 28, 2008 Abby Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Ben's father announces that he's gay, his mom takes off and his dad shoves Ben into all the therapy money can buy. After several years of abusing various drugs and getting into trouble, Ben's dad relocates the family (Ben, his dad, and his dad's husband Edward) to Rough Butte, Montana. They move in with Edward's mother, a no-nonsense country widow, and Ben has to toughed up quick. He also has to deal with the lingering issues he has with his dad.

An ambitious novel and one I really enjoyed.
Jul 19, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens looking for different family situations
Shelves: ya-fiction
This book was not easy to read. But the narrator is real, and smart, and has a very interesting view of the world. Ben's dad is gay, and upon this announcement his mother leaves. Fast forward a few years, Ben and his dad live with his dad's boyfriend. Ben has been through some stuff and gets into some trouble so they move out of the city and into some supertiny town in Montana. Ben, a skateboarding former pothead, feels more than a little out of place.

But I liked Ben, and I thought he was hones
Feb 18, 2014 Karlo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having a homosexual dad had made Ben Campbell's life miserable. First with his mom leaving his dad after she found out he was homosexual, and with all the drugs he took to cope with the pain just made every day for him terrible. But once he moved out from the town of Spokane to the town of Rough Butte, his whole life changed. He got the chance to escape the terrible society of Spokane, and truly engage with the world in Rough Butte. By finding true love and working, Ben went from a corrupted chi ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya_realistic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2014 Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book begins with a 17 year old punk skater from the city named Ben. His life was good until his dad came out with his homosexuality and divorced Ben's mother. After that event Ben's life took a terrible downturn. He stopped attending school, started doing drugs and began to rebel against his father entirely. Ben's father, in attempt to prevent him from getting worse, moved this city skater to the one place his father could think of. In Rough Butte, Montana Ben begins to turn his life around ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 07, 2013 Hossain rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i read this some months or years ago.I don't remember much about this book the only thing I remember that i hated this book. I can't even remember why i hated it.
May 05, 2015 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
First thing's first: this book was alright. Nothing spectacular, but not atrocious, either. Ben's sarcastic sense of humor is what made me decide to go from giving this book two stars (It Was Okay) to three stars (I liked it). Seriously. Some of his random outbursts to others (as well as his inner thoughts) had me laughing so hard that tears were coming out of my eyes. I even took pictures of some of my favorite lines and sent them to my co-blogger to get her to laugh, too.

The other thing I didn
Mar 03, 2008 Rachel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Released March 11, 2008
The Last Exit to Normal was a very interesting book. When Ben's dad comes out as gay, the author really tries to express Ben's angst and feeling of betrayal throughout the novel. I thought it was great how the novel is very unique. The plot itself is pretty obscure and complex. I thought the characters were mediocre. I never felt completely connected to Ben or his dad and stepdad. They were very hard to get a grasp on. I thought his dad was a bit distant and there was not enough detail about his ...more
Feb 17, 2010 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
Full review at

Summary: After 17-year-old Ben’s dad announces that he’s gay, Ben rebels by skipping school and doing drugs. Then his dad decides they’re moving from the city to a small town in Montana. Trying to fit in while sporting a mohawk turns out to be the least of Ben’s problems.

Review: I wanted to love this book. I did love several aspects of it, and I am glad I read it. But it wasn’t one of my favorites.

What I loved:

* The grit—The tough conversat
Aik Chien 인첸
Great book! What else can I say? 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
Diane Ferbrache
What would you expect a 14 year old boy to do? When Ben's father decides to "come out" and move in with his boyfriend, Ben's mother takes off and Ben begins a downward spiral -- drugs, fights, poor grades in school. Counseling doesn't help, so after 3 long years, Dad and "MomDad" decide to move to eastern Montana, back to the small town where Ben's stepdad grew up. Ben's spiked hair, pierced lip, punk clothes, and skateboard don't really fit in -- not to mention his TWO Dads.

I was afraid this wa
Jul 28, 2012 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It wasn't deep or profound but was, instead, a simple story about a teenaged, punked-out, angry stoner boy who is trying to drive his father insane because the father divorced the mother after coming out. The mother just leaves the entire family and Ben's father's new boyfriend moves in. That's probably a whole lot for any teenager to take and I understood why he had it in for his dad.
After a series of troubling misbehavior, Dad and Boyfriend uproot their city life and move
April Suter
Jun 17, 2011 April Suter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I was really surprised. I'm always looking for family books because it is hard to find one that is not about some horrible event or situation and how the family breaks up...yada yada. So when I picked this book up, I was .... well... ok it can't be that bad, I probably not like it. But (I'm saying this outloud-I was wrong!) I laughed out loud (my family wondered what was going on!) several times in this book.

Ben, the main character in the book, was dealt a rough hand of cards. His dad says
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2013 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 14-16 year olds
Recommended to Beverly by: ALA-YALSA Best Books for YA
Coming of age novels with an interesting, original and realistic male protagonist are hard to find. The Last Exit to Normal has a great one. Ben Campbell is a hard teen to like. Ben is angry and resentful. He is also funny in a cynical, snarky and sometimes very wise way. Like a lot of teens, he is unable to see beyond his anger to realize that he is creating his own misery. He has devoted the last three years to blaming his father for his unhappiness and getting revenge on his father for ruinin ...more
Dec 05, 2009 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbtq, guy-books
As fish-out-of water stories go, this is one of the good ones. Harmon keeps Ben sympathetic as he adjusts to the Simple Life, sans money and glamor. Even though the city-mouse/country-mouse story is familiar, it is done well, with plenty of side plots to stir things up. Will the country change this skate rat? Will he ever find welcome in a community as stagnant as Rough Butte? Will he get the girl and solve the mystery and topple the bully? A lot to tackle, but done with aplomb.

And the real trea
May 28, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Whenever I saw this book at the library, I would always get it mixed up with Nick Burd's The Vast Fields of Ordinary. I did finally get around to reading both this book and Burd's book this year, and while they do have some surface similarities (small towns, gay characters), they're quite different in tone.

Main character Ben is a difficult one to like -- an opinion shared by his immediate and extended family, it seems -- but he's an effective narrator for this story. Both the first chapter and t
I bought this at a library used book sale because the title caught my eye. I really didn’t pay attention to what the story was about so when I picked it up to read months later I was going in blind. The story was at first pretty anti-climatic – teenager acting out against his dad in typical manors. His dad announcing he was gay was the thing that set this whole story in motion. I wasn’t sure how this was going to be handled, especially after they moved to the small town the dad’s boyfriend grew ...more
Melanie Goodman
Fans of John Green and Jake Wizner will likely enjoy Michael Harmon’s witty male protagonist in The Last Exit to Normal. A troubled boy with a smart mouth, Ben is forced to move to middle of nowhere Montana where he is taken down a few notches by Miss Mae, a strict lady who expects respect and hard work. As Ben begins to shape up and learn the value of honest work, he also reveals his good heart, helping neighbors and saving the life of a local farmer who gets trapped under a tractor in a storm. ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Manuela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
4.5 stars

I loved this book. It's a perfect mix of drama and humour.
Ben is a 17 year old boy with a not easy family life: his father comes out as gay to his wife and Ben when Ben is 14 and that is the start of a very difficult time for Ben. His mom leaves them both and Ben finds himself living with his dad and his dad's partner, Edward. He starts acting out, getting himself into more and more trouble, untill his father and Edward decide to move to Edward's hometowm, a small town in Montana, to l
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