Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Last Exit to Normal

Harmon, Michael. 2008. THE LAST EXIT TO NORMAL. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375840982 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

Ben Campbell is sent to live with his father and partner Edward after getting in frequent trouble while living with his mom. The three of them move to a small Montana town, where Ben meets Edward’s mother, Bonnie Mae, a character who views life as a series of actions and consequences. An uncomfortable Ben tries to adjust to his situation and befriends a young boy, Billy, the next door neighbor’s son, who hides his own secret.

As Ben attempts to make things right for Billy, he begins to understand his own problems and realizes that it’s okay if things aren’t always like you want them. He stands up for Billy as he attempts to make things right for himself in this story filled with humor, doubt, and uncomfortable courage.

Ben’s reactions to a strict grandmother figure, a gay father, and his new town provide a realistic look at life as a teenage boy tries to grow up. The topic of a gay father is not the crux of this story; rather it is how Ben attempts to distance himself and later fit in to his new family situation, yet realizing his father must live his life while he loves Ben just the same.

This book is an authentic look at living with a gay parent and for those who must struggle to understand themselves. Honest and funny, it moves the reader through the hardships of growing up and facing problems responsibly.

Other books for teens about coming of age and gays:
Jones, Carrie. TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND. ISBN 0738713414
Moore, Perry. HERO. ISBN 1423101952

By Shirley Smith Duke

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