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.
May I just start by saying that Andrew Smith is a WRITING MACHINE. Just about seven months after his last release, Grasshopper Jungle (which, by the way, I’m still recovering from), Smith comes out with another standalone, 100 Sideways Miles, which won’t be released until September. But for books, this is quite a big deal. Readers usually have to wait at least a year or more for another novel, especially a stand-alone (John Green, I’m talking about you). So when I heard that 100 Sideways Miles was being released in September, I jumped up and down, much like I do with any book I want to read, and knew that I had to have it. I had no plans of actually waiting that long, so, luckily, I acquired an advanced copy from Edelweiss. Thanks for that, Edelweiss.
For avid readers of Smith, this novel won’t really come as a surprise, especially if you’re a large fan of his main characters, which I’m a very big fan of. His main characters (I’m basing this on his last two releases) are males who are very confused about the world, confused about girls and love and family and friendship. And they’re realistic, even if the story sometimes isn’t. Very hormonal too, although in 100 Sideways Miles, this horny torch (yes, I just said that) is passed to our main character’s best friend, Cade Hernandez, who is as insane as the blurb above describes him to be. But this is what made me pick up his novels in the first place. It might be an acquired taste at first, for these kinds of novels often are, but once you get addicted, you’re addicted. Enough said.
I had no idea what to expect of 100 Sideways Miles. The premise confused me, and as you’ve probably read above, it sounds vague. But it is not very vague at all. In fact, it might say a bit too much about the plot. Maybe because there isn’t much of a plot – this is very much a character-driven story – but the blurb of the novel tells most of the story, so if this frustrates you, just keep going. The story isn’t written with a large adventure or plot twist or anything like that. It’s written with a big character, one with a big voice and a sympathetic experience. Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes, which is one of the most unique traits I’ve ever read in a character. He’s also epileptic. On top of that, when Finn was younger, a large horse dropped out of the sky and fell on top of him and his mom. His mother died, but he is living with this scar forever now :l:, a scar that resembles the scars in his father’s cult-classic novel. Making Finn Easton a sort of creation of his father’s novel. Or so he thinks.
Now this might all sound heavy and slopped together, but it’s not. As a reviewer, I never want to interpret books for potential readers; I want you to have your own. You might read it and have something else in mind. That is the beauty of books. For me, the best part of reading is finding my own interpretations for each individual novel. So I’ll tell you my interpretation of this book, spoiler-free, of course, but I do hope that when you read it yourself, you will make your own assumptions. This isn’t an English class. You won’t get docked off points for having a different idea. You might think all these details in the book are for nothing, but here are a few reasons why I see them as so important.
First of all, Finn’s situation may seem hard to relate to, but like Grasshopper Jungle, I found many strange things that surprisingly connected with me. I’m not epileptic. I don’t know a book written with a character who has the same name and scar as me. I don’t have a ridiculously insane best friend (well, I have a few, but not Cade Hernandez insane). I also didn’t have a dead horse fall on top of me and kill my mother in the process, but yet, I found this novel to be utterly relatable.
Like most of us, Finn Easton feels that he’s been set in a life his father has created and loses himself in seizures he has no control over. Have you ever met a teenager, including yourself or former self, who doesn’t feel in control of their own life? Have you met a teenager who feels like their parents have etched their lives, almost in a novel-like way, that it’s hard to figure out who they are exactly? Most likely, the answer is yes.
This is one of many reasons why I am such a fan of Smith’s novels. No matter how outrageous they might sound, they are utterly relatable – you don’t have to relate to a story in order for it to be a good one. But when you have a story like Smith’s and are able to take something personal out of your life, you get a great sense that the author has done something right. Something authentic. Something provocative and endearing. Smith has done all of that.
Smith has risen himself to literary stardom, and 100 Sideways Miles will be a great addition to his acclaimed novels. With humor, depth, friendship, and heartbreak, 100 Sideways Miles will take you a great distance through a superbly written novel of a boy trying to rewrite his life just as much as you are. Smith’s novel will be released September 2nd, 2014.
:l: Rating :l: 10/10