100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book began with a curious statement about a boy, who isn’t exactly sure where he comes from. And he’s not the only one to believe he came from his father’s work of fiction. The story he wrote about a boy, named Finn, just like his son, who was an epileptic, just like his son, with clipped wings –unlike his son. Though Finn does have markings from the childhood accident that left him with vertebrae pins and a dead mother when a horse fell from a bridge—100 Sideways Miles on top of them. It doesn’t help that the human eating aliens in his father’s book have the exact scars Finn has on his back. Finn has to remind everyone it’s just a story. Fiction. Get over it. But Finn cannot.
Sixteen year-old, Finn Easton carries the weight of believing he is the character in the pages of his father’s book. But he wants to write his own story. Like many adolescents who fall under the weight of their parents’ beliefs, and life styles, we try and break free. It’s only when we become adults and move away from our parents that we can charts our own course, and see our own free will in action. Until then, we struggle to map our individual identity.
And Finn has a good buddy to help on his journey, Cade Hernandez, the extrovert, and Cade looks after him. Finn, the introvert, idolizes all the crazy antics Cade does and is. Cade Hernandez was like a God. He had the ability to make anyone do what ever he wanted. Including Finn. I couldn’t help thinking about the similarity of the friendship between Gene and Phineas in the classic, Separate Peace by John Knowles, with how much Gene idolized Phineas. Cade and Finn are complete opposites, the yin and yang of each other, and have been good friends since Finn was ten years old. Though Finn’s father doesn’t care for Cade, because he’s everything he doesn’t want his son to become. Cade is brash, and reckless, outspoken, and speaks in some pretty graphic dialogue. The dialogue rang true for teen boys (I have two teen boys), messing around. And Cade, the prankster and joker, messes with everyone.
There’s a lot of quirk in this story, which I love. Finn believes distance is more important than time. Twenty miles per second, which is how fast the Earth is spinning. I love Finn’s internal dialogue, the way he thinks. How everything is on a much grander scale than what we see. The poetic lens he sees through.
The smell of sweet flowers, always signal to Finn he’s about to have an epileptic seizure. He usually wakes up from these episodes, covered in urine, angry, and empty of all thoughts, until his life returns, until he can remember where he is.
One day, after his father and the only Mom he remembers, leave for New York City, Finn collapses at home. Naked and soaked in urine, with his ever faithful dog by his side—he is discovered by the “most beautiful girl he’d ever seen” Julia Bishop. She’s new at school and turns out she lives up the canyon from him.
So between Cade and Julia, they help show Finn a way to write his own story. Adventure ensues. Love blossoms. And the boys become heroes in the process. I enjoyed this book very much, and I think my sixteen year old will find many truths he can to relate to.
View all my reviews