Monday, June 23, 2008

The Last Exit to Normal - Michael Harmon

i really liked this book. i liked it so much that when i got home from work the other night i pretty much just sat on the couch and rad until it was done. "the last exit to normal" is a coming of age story told from the pov of 17 year old ben campbell. ben's life has been rather difficult the past few years due to the fact that his dad came out and his mother left. since then ben has had to accept the fact of his father's homosexuality and come to grips with his mother's abandonment. mostly, he has chosen to do neither of these things and has let his anger lead him on a downward spiral of drugs and skateboarding. at 17 ben suddenly decides that enough is enough and that he's ready to clean up his act and make peace with his dad. this seems to be a rather mature decision for a 17 year old to make, but what the hey, i'll let it go. unfortunately, ben seems unable to keep out of trouble for very long and he is soon involved in a car chase with the police that culminates with him driving into a house. understandably his dad is unimpressed and he decides to uproot ben and move to rough butte montana, ben's momdad's (the name ben uses for his dad's partner) hometown.

ben's move to rough butte sees ben having to come to terms with many of his prejudices. as a city boy he views the inhabitants of rough butte as hicks and rednecks. ben's skate punk style is severely out of place among the more conservative population in his new town. in terms of his dad's sexual orientation, ben assumes that everyone in rough butte will be homophobic and that things for him as well as his father will be rough. this provides an opportunity for ben's own homosexual prejudices to show themselves. and finally, there is the boy next door who ben believes is being abused by his father, but he is told time and time again to let it slide because people in rough butte have their own ways. i could take tonnes of time and space here and go on about deeper meanings to all of this stuff. however, i will instead suggest that you read this book and make up your own mind.

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