100 Sideways Miles
By Andrew Smith
Published September 2nd, 2014
Simon & Schuster
Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: received from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an unbiased review (Thank You!)
About the book:
Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.
Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.
Listen. I completely challenged myself to read more books that would appeal to teen boys. I started with Andrew Smith. Not a bad place to start, right?
Now I have a crush. I think Mr. Smith has replaced Mr. Scalzi on my “list” *finger quotes*. You know… the list you keep in your mind of all the impossible crushes you get free passes on if you ever meet them in person. I’d actually just like to share a beer with the man. At a bar in San Diego. But I digress…
Look. I may have been slightly confused in the beginning of this book. The story is told from the point of view of Finn Easton, a 16 year old (almost 17 year old) teenage boy who, after a freak childhood accident, has developed epilepsy. He also may or may not be stuck in his father’s fictional novel. A novel that is wildly popular with a cult-like following.
I just thought the beginning was kind of all over the place as Finn gave his background, introduced his best friend Cade Hernandez (because you have to say his full name), and Finn’s life in Southern California. But I guess the benefit was that it acquainted us with Finn’s unique voice and personality (read: quirks). It’s completely fantastic that Finn sees the passage of time as miles instead of minutes. By the end of the book, I think I may have actually understood it…. maybe…
It wasn’t long before I was completely hooked by the story of Finn’s junior year in high school (with Cade, and Julia, and Finn’s Dad). I think my favorite feel-good parts of the book (there were a ton) were the conversations between Finn and his Dad. I don’t want to spoil anything for you but they were utter perfection. I caught a Facebook comment from Mr. Smith where he said that there’s a lot of himself and his son in this book. 🙂
You know what else I totally ate up in this book? The freakin’ history lesson I got! I lived in Southern California for several years around 2000. I never thought twice about Mulholland Drive. Who knew? Of course I Google’d it! I’d like to see you hold back and not want to know more! Got you wondering, don’t I?
I could tell you more about this book’s greatness but I might end up spoiling all the goodies inside to discover on your own. Useful to know is that the language at times is fraught with f-bombs. But that’s a typical teenager these days, no? There’s also some discussion of sex but honestly, this book, IMHO, is completely appropriate for teens.
If this book isn’t on your list of books to read this year… well, why not?!?! Mr. Smith, my toast to you… to the great knackery in the sky. Cheers and thanks for the ride!
About the author:
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year,” and an ALA Top 10 for 2014) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.