100 Sideways Miles
100 Sideways Miles
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Annotation: Finn Easton, sixteen and epileptic, struggles to feel like more than just a character in his father's cult-classic novels with the help of his best friend, Cade Hernandez, and first love, Julia, until Julia moves away. Contains Mature Material
Catalog Number: #5626469
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Mature Content Mature Content
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition Date: 2014
Pages: 277 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-442-44495-9
ISBN 13: 978-1-442-44495-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2013030326
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
High schooler Finn survived a freak accident years ago in which a dead horse fell from an overpass, killing his mother. After girl-of-his-dreams Julia moves away, crestfallen Finn embarks on a college visit with his friend Cade, a trip that turns them into heroes. Finn has a funny, fluid narrative voice, and his banter with Cade is excellent--and often hilariously vulgar. Unusual and memorable.
Publishers Weekly
Smith dives back into the mind of a teenage boy in a story that-s less brutal or apocalyptic than his recent work (readers who know him from Grasshopper Jungle or Winger may keep waiting for the other shoe to drop), but similarly full of existential questions and sexuality run amok. When 16-year-old Finn Easton was a boy, he and his mother were crushed by a falling dead horse in a freak accident-Finn-s mother died, and he broke his back, leaving him with recurring epileptic episodes and a scar on his back. In the present, Finn is navigating relationships with his father, the author of a cult science-fiction novel; his raunchy best friend Cade; and a new girl in town, Julia. Road-trip shenanigans, condom-purchasing embarrassments, drunken parties, and stumbling attempts at first love all factor into the novel, but amid the loopy escapades, Finn-s musings about the universe-s constant dispersal and recycling of atoms, along with his habit for measuring time in the distance the Earth is forever racing around the sun, provide a memorable perspective on human (in)significance. Ages 12-up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Sept.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 9 Up&12; Finn Easton has lived his life in the shadow of a book. As a child, Finn was severely injured and his mother killed in a freak accident: a dead horse landed on them when it fell off a truck that was traveling over a bridge. After the accident, his father took many of Finn's unique characteristics (his name, heterochromatic eyes, propensity to measure time in miles traveled by the Earth in orbit, struggle with epilepsy, and a particular scar along his back) and made them into a character in a Robert Heinlein-esque novel, The Lazarus Door. The novel has attained cult status around the world and made Finn's life a nightmare. The only person who treats him as though he is not the character in the book is his best friend, Cade Hernandez, the tobacco-chewing, sex-obsessed, teacher-baiting hero to their classmates, beloved for his pitching skills and his ability to get most people&12;especially girls&12;to do whatever he wants. Late in their junior year, Julia Bishop moves in and Finn falls in love. She is creative and funny. When she announces that she is moving back home to Chicago shortly after Finn's birthday, he is heartbroken, but decides to continue with his planned road trip with Cade to Dunston University in Oklahoma, a school they plan to attend unless Cade is drafted by the major leagues or is given an athletic scholarship to another university. The trip is the first time Finn has been out of California or away from home, and Cade helps him cut the cord by throwing away his cell while on the road in Arizona. While driving in a deluge in Oklahoma, they witness an accident and risk their own lives rescuing a little boy, a dog, and a grandfather from a raging river. This will appeal to teens who like novels with a bit of an absurdist edge, such as Libba Bray's Going Bovine (Delacorte, 2009).&12; Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Finn Easton lives on the edge of disaster. A dead horse falling from a bridge injured him as a child at the same time that it killed his mother. Also, his writer dad featured not only Finn's name but also his epilepsy in a novel that became a sci-fi cult classic, bringing his son unwanted notoriety. Also, Finn's dog likes to rub up against dead things. Also, lastly, he lives in a California canyon that was the site of dam-break disaster, and during seizures, he sees the ghosts of two girls who died in the flood. Given all this, forging a positive identity seems almost impossible for Finn, especially when he is overshadowed by his best friend Cade, a charismatic jokester. Then Finn meets Julia, a new student from Chicago, and he finds that his oddball idiosyncrasies can be charming. When Julia returns to the Midwest, all seems lost, but a road trip with Cade, a heroic rescue during a flash flood, mistaken identities, and a long detour offer Finn chances to remake himself. Leavened with humor and high-school high jinks, this unpredictable story of love and friendship is close to perfect. This falls on the Winger (2013) side of Smith's oeuvre rather than The Marbury Lens (2010) side, and its offbeat tone will endear it to fans of writers like Libba Bray. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Smith is a slow-but-sure publishing success story, with the recent Winger and Grasshopper Jungle bringing him overdue acclaim. Demand, too, is on the rise.
Voice of Youth Advocates
At first glance, Finn Easton is an average sixteen-year-old guy: he lives with his father, step-mother, and little sister in California; he plays baseball; he has a crazy best friend named Cade, a trusty dog, and a new girlfriend, Julia. But Finn's dad is a world-famous author, and Finn is an epileptic. These two factors make Finn's life a bit otherworldly at times, when fact and fiction combine in disconcerting ways. Though realistic fiction, Finn's story is one of the humbling, and sometimes dangerous, situations that come from both his frequent and unexpected seizures and being friends with Cade. Making things even more interesting are the dedicated fans of Finn's dad's most famous novel, in which there is an alien character named Finn who bears a striking resemblance to the real Finn, and those fans often treat Finn like the character in the book.Smith's boner-humor is in full force here, but it is too charming to find offensive. Even Finn's f-bombs make sense in context (they are mostly post-seizure when Finn feels angry and disorganized, but even when they are not, they do not feel gratuitous). While Finn is a bit blandhe mentions more than once that he keeps his feelings inside, though he does have an interesting quirk in that he measures time in miles the earth travels per secondhe is balanced by his over-the-top best friend, who is rumored to have bugged his history teacherliterallyto death. What results are the engaging adventures of two best friends on the verge of adulthood. John Green fans will enjoy Smith's newest novel.Jennifer Miskec.
Word Count: 60,942
Reading Level: 5.8
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.8 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 168458 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.7 / points:16.0 / quiz:Q63405
Lexile: 890L
100 Sideways Miles


Look: I do not know where I actually came from. I wonder, I suspect, but I do not know.

I am not the only one who sometimes thinks I came from the pages of a book my father wrote. Maybe it’s like that for all boys of a certain—or uncertain—age: We feel as though there are no choices we’d made through all those miles and miles behind us that hadn’t been scripted by our fathers, and that our futures are only a matter of flipping the next page that was written ahead of us.

I am not the only one who’s ever been trapped inside a book.

• • •

A story involving alien visitors from outer space, an epileptic kid who doesn’t really know where he came from, knackeries and dead horses falling a hundred sideways miles, abandoned prisons, a shadow play, moons and stars, and jumping from a bridge into a flood should probably begin with a big explosion in the sky about fourteen billion years ago. After all, the whole story is rather biblical, isn’t it?


But it doesn’t.

It begins at a high school in Burnt Mill Creek, California. It begins before the summer Cade Hernandez and I went on a fact-finding expedition to visit a college in Oklahoma.

We didn’t quite make it to the college. I’m not sure if we found any facts, either.

• • •

Mr. Nossik hung motivational posters on the walls of his classroom—things about perseverance, integrity, and shit like that.

One of them said this:



The first time we saw that one, Cade Hernandez, my best friend, said, “Sounds like he lives in a fucking haunted house.”

I suppose it was a year for opening doors in more ways than I ever imagined.

• • •

At Burnt Mill Creek High School, the people in charge were constantly on some kind of pointless mission to get us kids to quit doing shit. All schools everywhere are like that, I think. Quit Chewing Gum flopped in ninth grade. Quit Using Cell Phones was dead before it started. And, now, during the second semester of our junior year, the quit mission involved “fuck.”

Not doing it, saying it.

It was destined to fail.

More than a century of public education that aimed its pedagogical crosshairs at getting teenagers to quit having sex, quit drinking, quit driving so fast, quit taking drugs, never had the slightest behavior-altering effect on kids.

Not that I did any of those things. Well, some of them.

Now we were caught up in the Burnt Mill Creek High School mission to make us quit saying “fuck,” which is more or less a comma—a punctuation mark—to most teenagers when they speak.

The teachers and administrators at Burnt Mill Creek High School might just as well have focused their energies on getting tectonic plates to quit making so many fucking earthquakes.

The brains behind the Quit Saying “Fuck” mission was our history teacher, Mr. Nossik. He and the staff at the school painted signs with slogans that said things like NO F-BOMBS, PLEASE! (the kids called them “fuck posters”), and teachers even wore specially printed WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, O PIONEERS! T-shirts. The kids called them “fuck shirts.”

The campaign only made things worse.

By May, Mr. Nossik was about to explode.

• • •

We were all about to witness a Nazi having a stroke.

Here is what happened: Our teacher, Mr. Nossik, believed in making history “come alive.” So, naturally, on May 7, which was the anniversary of the German surrender in World War II, Mr. Nossik dressed himself up as a Gestapo kommissar.


What a nice scene: a Nazi at the front of a public-school classroom filled with sixteen-year-old boys and girls.

You can’t make history come alive. History is deader than Laika the space dog.

And I’ll admit it—nobody in my class ever learned anything from Mr. Nossik’s living displays. Are you kidding me? This was eleventh grade. Shit like that stopped working on our brains around the same time the training wheels came off our bicycles.

Besides, Mr. Nossik’s so-called “living history” often pushed things a little too far. One time last March, he dressed up as a battered drowning victim to commemorate the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dam.

History lives, it dies, and it comes alive again as the soaking-wet, mangled, and bloodied corpse of a Mexican ranch hand.

My mother was a Jew, which technically makes me a Jew. Only a few people know that about me because on the surface I am an atheist; and with a name like Finn Easton, who would guess I’d feel a bit edgy around a forty-five-year-old freak who liked to role-play genocidal war criminals?

I am named after the Mark Twain character, by the way.

I am not named after the Finn in my father’s book; I swear.

So: My best friend, Cade Hernandez, who always sat next to me unless Mr. Nossik kicked him out of class or assigned him a back-row desk facing away from the lectern (just because Mr. Nossik frequently couldn’t stand looking at Cade), raised his hand and asked our Nazi leader this: “Mr. Nossik, why do I always get a boner in this class, at exactly eight-fifteen, every morning? This is ridiculous!”

Kids laughed.

I laughed.

Who wouldn’t laugh at a boy who asked a Nazi a question about getting an erection?

Besides, Cade Hernandez was our de facto commander in the Stop Trying to Make Us Stop revolution, our act of defiance against the quit missions. Cade Hernandez ran the school. He could get anyone to do anything he wanted. Cade Hernandez was magic or something.

Mr. Nossik’s face reddened, which, in the aesthetic arrangement of things, matched the color scheme of his outfit perfectly.

Let me tell you something else about Cade Hernandez: As the school’s de facto commander in the Stop Trying to Make Us Stop revolution, he was an expert button pusher. The moment any authority figure challenged Cade’s control over things, the game was on.

Mr. Nossik despised Cade Hernandez as deeply as anyone could ever hate another person.

It was only a matter of time until Mr. Nossik came up with some type of Quit Being Cade Hernandez mission.

To be honest, all us kids in the class loved to see the two of them square off. Cade routinely won. At least once a week, Mr. Nossik would tell Cade that he couldn’t stand looking at him anymore, so he’d order Cade to the back of the room, as far away from Mr. Nossik’s desk as possible.

And Cade frequently wasn’t doing anything to justify his banishment.

But Cade Hernandez did have a way of just staring and staring—without blinking—calmly showing the faintest trace of a smile on his face as though he were saying, Come on, fucker, let’s see who wins today.

That was it.

Cade stared and stared and smiled and smiled.

And that was how he looked at Mr. Nossik on May 7, Nazi Day, when Cade Hernandez, in as straightforward and sincere a voice as you could ever imagine, asked our Gestapo kommissar teacher why he got a boner during history class at the same time every morning.

This was Cade Hernandez, a kid whose lower-body blood flow apparently had tidal predictability.

Mr. Nossik, his voice quavering as though he’d just swallowed a fistful of feathers and sand, stamped his jackbooted foot and told Cade to GET OUT of the classroom immediately.

Man! The only thing that could possibly have made Mr. Nossik look more like Hitler at that moment would have been a toothbrush swath of black hair on his upper lip.

And Cade, all innocence and self-pity, said, “Can I wait a couple minutes before I stand up, please, Mr. Nossik? Seriously, this thing is ridiculous!”

We all laughed again.

And Mr. Nossik—in a voice reminiscent of the most fiery Nuremberg Rally oratory—stamped and shrieked, “GET! OUT!”

So Cade Hernandez, smiling slightly, completely unashamed, stood and walked across the room to wait outside the door while the quaking Mr. Nossik composed himself.

Of course, everyone looked to see if Cade really did have a boner.

I’m not saying.

And Mr. Nossik, our Gestapo kommissar, didn’t actually have a stroke that morning, but I believe some crucial arteries and shit inside vital parts of his body got dangerously close to their bursting point every time Cade Hernandez put pressure on Mr. Nossik’s hair-trigger nerves.

• • •

Cade Hernandez and I both played baseball for the Burnt Mill Creek High School Pioneers baseball team.

O Pioneers!

Cade was our pitcher—a lefty who’d been scouted by the majors, extremely talented—and I played the outfield, usually right. I would not want to play a position like pitcher, where there is such a high likelihood of making costly mistakes.

Costly mistakes, like sexual confusion and nuclear weapons, which by the way are both legacies passed down from the greatest generation—the guys who whipped Hitler—are strongly related to extinction.

Who wants that?

Cade’s nickname was Win-Win, but it had nothing to do with his record as a starter. I will explain later, since I wanted this part of the story to be about me: Finn Easton.

Excerpted from 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Destiny takes a detour in this heartbreakingly hilarious novel with five starred reviews, from the acclaimed author of Winger, which Kirkus Reviews called “smart” and “wickedly funny.”

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.

NYTBR Notable Children’s Book of the Year
NPR Best Book of the Year
NYPL's Best Book of the Year for Teens
Chicago Public Library Best Teen Fiction of the Year
A Texas Tayshas Top Ten Selection

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