100 Sideways Miles
by Andrew Smith
Original Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Length: 277 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Obtained Via: Gifted
View at the Traffic light:
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.
Last year I read and loved Andrew Smith’s Winger. Since then, I’ve been wanting to read more of his work, but I didn’t think his early 2014 release, Grasshopper Jungle was for me. I thought 100 Sideways Miles would be more my style, and I was right.
Finn, the main character, is obsessed with counting time in unit of miles(in terms of how far the Earth moves) instead of minutes. As a child, a horse fell off a bridge and ended up killing his mother and temporarily paralyzing him. As a high school student, Finn’s come a long way from that time, but he still sometimes has seizures and also has the obsession with counting miles. He’s also determined to make sure he’s real and not just a character in his father’s book, since one of his father’s characters looks like him and has his name.
All these things seem weird and random–Finn, his obsessions, the girl he starts liking(Julia), and his best friend Cade–but somehow Andrew Smith makes them work together. I noticed this with Winger as well. There’s all these scenes that on the surface seemed to be disconnected but you get a gut feeling that they’re all going somewhere in the end.
I was most fascinated by the relationships in 100 Sideways Miles. Finn’s friendship was Cade felt genuine and effortless in a way few friendships in YA do. Cade was such a stereotypical teen guy that I personally didn’t “like” him, exactly, but he was a character that was fascinating to read about because he felt so real. I also enjoyed the way that Cade and Finn’s friendship played out. It was deep, but not in a way that I think either boy would ever describe it that way.
I also enjoyed the relationship between Finn and Julia. Finn becomes obsessed with Julia quickly, and while he may think he’s in love, I never got the impression that 100 Sideways Miles was trying to convince me of instalove by any means. I also loved the moments where Finn’s character growth shone through as he got to know Julia better and realized she was a person with her own past and not just there as an object of his affection.
While Finn’s growth is steady throughout the novel, he has a coming-of-age moment towards the end of the book. I will admit this threw me for a loop just for a bit. Until that point, I had been reading a quirky story about a boy, his best friend, and his girlfriend filled with humor and strange insights. Then, 100 Sideways Miles got a little more serious, but after reflecting I think the book flowed better than I originally thought. The thread of Finn’s self-discovery is what really pulled it together for me.
100 Sideways Miles is another unique book from Andrew Smith. It’s weird and quirky and sometimes vaguely annoying(because Finn can be annoying), but in a way that felt true and kept me reading. I read this book in one sitting and despite a few minor issues, I really enjoyed it. 4/5 cupcakes.