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The Last Exit to Normal

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,027 Ratings  ·  151 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 painful enough living in ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 11th 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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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 05, 2009 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 04, 2013 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 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 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
Oct 25, 2008 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 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 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
Jan 07, 2016 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.
Feb 03, 2009 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.
Feb 21, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Released March 11, 2008
Sep 07, 2013 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.
Beth Perry
Sep 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am not going to continue reading this, it's so boring and does not keep my attention. I don't like it very much. I had a hard time reading what I did because it was just boring.
I opted to fetch this book from the library, not certain if I'd enjoy it enough to own it, but I'm now planning to purchase a copy as I intend to re-read this in my spare time (whenever that comes to pass). Last Exit is one of those gems of a novel I want to push out into the world and have others enjoy and since I lend a lot of books, it's one that will go into my permanent collection.

Benjamin is a troubled seventeen year old. That kind of character seems all too familiar, right? But the how an
Feb 17, 2010 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
Heather (Capricious Reader)
Three years ago, Ben Campbell’s was as normal as could be. Then his dad suddenly announced he was gay. Now Ben has no mother, she walked out the door and never looked back. He’s doing every drug he can get his hands on. Then a year ago Ben cleaned himself up. For almost an entire year he hasn’t gotten into trouble, he’s done well in school, and he’s sort of civil with everyone. But then he goes and gets arrested and that’s that. His dad, and his “Momdad” Edward, take Ben and move him to the midd ...more
Yin 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
Jan 09, 2014 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
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Evan; 8th grade and up
Shelves: age-high-school
One of my new favorites! From the book jacket: "When Ben Campbell was fourteen years old, his father made an announcement. He called it coming out. Ben called it selfishly blowing apart the family without stopping to think about anyone else. Three years, countless joints, and one arrest later, Ben finds himself yanked out of his city life and plunked down in Eastern Montana with his father and Edward, The Boyfriend. As if arriving in a hicksville town with hair spikes, a skateboard habit, and tw ...more
Mar 20, 2015 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
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess you could say really liking this book would be a bit of a stretch, but nonetheless a three just wasn't suitable for this book.

Ben was a pothead. Still is a mischievous skater boy (which I'm assuming is Harmon's style, since the back of the book is covered in comments about how great his book Skate was). A guy with a sarcastic side, but still a tiny shred of hope for love at first sight.

Instead of being about a teenage boy's crap-ups, it started with an explosion of old crap-ups that Ben
Johanna Freivalds
Being surprised in a good way is one of my favorite things! I hadn't intended on reading this book when I started it the other day, but I inadvertently left my intended "next read" at home so went to plan B. Now don't get me wrong... when this book first came out I was intrigued enough to put it on my "I'll read it someday" list ...but publishers keep coming out with enticing stories that also caught my the day for reading The last Exit to Normal kept getting postponed. This is on ...more
Aug 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I first picked up The Last Exit to normal I was extremely hopeful. The narration was funny and at times I even caught myself laughing out loud. The idea of the plot was enough to spark interest in me and I loved it... for a while.

I would love to say it was one of those books that just pleased me more and more with every page, but it really didn’t. I found myself hating the main character. Ben is always whining and unhappy. Whether it’s because he is upset at his father, Rough Butte or life
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book so much. This was the first book ever to make me feel like I was the main character. No matter how many books I read, I can never really visualize myself there. I mean, yeah, sometimes I do, but not throughout the whole book.

I really connected with the main character, too. Every time he was pissed, I was pissed. I probably hate his dad more than he does. Seriously, he's one of the funniest guys I've read about or even met. I pissed my parents off because I unintentionally beca
May 22, 2011 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
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
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2013 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
Jan 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This is the first book I read on my Kindle. I had tagged this book as To Read some time ago, though I don't remember where I found the recommendation. Overall, I found the book to be average. That said, there are some strengths to it to commend it.

For starters, the characters are well drawn. Particularly Miss Mae, Ben's new step-grandmother. She's brusque and apparently rather weather-worn and hardened. But there's a deep and abiding love underneath her tough exterior, and you're thrilled as Be
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