Friday, November 7, 2014

HIgh School Pick: 100 Sideways Miles

100 Sideways Miles
by Andrew Smith
Simon and Schuster
2014
288 pages
ISBN: 9781442444959

Witty, irreverent and just plain fun! What else do  you expect from an Andrew Smith YA title? You know you will be entertained and amazed and spellbound. 100 Sideways Miles will make you laugh and entertain you. It will cause strange reactions and could cause hysteria in some people. Don't read this novel if you have no sense of humor. Don't read this book if profanity bothers you. Just get over it. Warning: Reading Andrew Smith could cause eruptions of laughter and leave the reader with  lasting feelings of happiness which may last days or even weeks.

Finn Easton tells the story of his childhood  accident--the time a dead horse fell on him and his real mother causing her death and Finn to suffer from epilepsy. Since the accident, Finn sees the passage of time not in hours and minutes but in miles that the earth travels. Finn tells the incident and it's believable and laughable--and after I read it,  I felt a bit guilty--I couldn't  believe I just laughed at a kid's dead mother and the fact he now has epilepsy--but only a little bit guilty. That's the fun in Smith's writing and characters--you laugh at things that are not funny--but actually, they are hysterically funny.

Finn's father is a novelist whose sci-fi novel about space aliens who arrive on Earth through "Lazarus doors" in the universe and appear as angels to humans is a hit. Because the humans welcome the "angels," they don't realize the angels came to feast on humans. The book becomes so popular that some people take it too seriously and have threatened his father. Because one of the aliens happens to be a boy named Finn, the real Finn is upset. He hates that he's part of his father's novel, even though his father insists that the alien is not based on him. The real Finn feels like he's trapped inside his father's book.

Finn's best friend is an all American, tobacco chewing, baseball playing jock with a potty mouth named Cade Hernandez. Not only is Cade Hernandez physically blessed, he's smart, popular and funny. Cade  Hernandez  is a class clown whose epic antics are loved by the entire school. Finn has a bro-mance with Cade Hernandez. Cade Hernandez can get people to do nearly anything he wants just by looking at them. Finn says, "It was a look particular to Cade Hernandez--a seducer's look. It was magical and unavoidable and caused women to willingly enslave themselves to him." Finn always refers to Cade Hernandez as Cade Hernandez--it's just one of his lovable quirks.

When a pretty, new girl shows up at school,  Finn is immediately smitten with her. He won't admit to Cade that he has feelings for Julia. He knows Cade will do anything for a laugh, and he's afraid his best friend  will ruin whatever chance he has with Julia.

Readers will love the  relationship between Finn and Cade; they are closer than blood and their banter is fresh and funny. The father/son relationship between Finn and his dad is sweet and timeless. Although Finn hates his father's book, he has a deep love and regard for his father. His father's parenting style is Yoda-like "Use the Force, Finn."  He tells it like it is and doesn't skirt tough issues. If Finn asks a question, he gets a truthful answer.

There is so much to love about 100 Sideways Miles: a father/son relationship worthy of "Leave It To Beaver" but so much better, a weird sci-fi novel where aliens eat humans and humans think the aliens are angels, a dog who loves to roll in dead animals' carcasses, a road trip, a best friend--part class clown and part Greek god, a cute girl, a dead horse that falls from the sky, and best of all an epileptic boy who will touch readers' hearts.

Don't pick up 100 Sideways Miles unless you're ready to finish it in one session. Be prepared to fall in love with Finn Easton, Cade Hernandez and Andrew Smith.

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. A MUST READ. Language, underage drinking and partying, bad boy behavior, sex.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)




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