Excerpt from 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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100 Sideways Miles

by Andrew Smith

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith X
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 288 pages

    Sep 2015, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

I hold together pretty well, considering how much my atoms have been through.

These are things I think about sometimes. Look: I realize now that I wasn't only trapped inside my father's book; my father also did not want to let go of me. Maybe that's an egotistical thing to say—we are all centers of our personal universes in any event—but it was ironically obvious to me; and my father had told me straight out, anyway.

He said to me, "Finn, I wish you would never grow up and go away."

So that summer of the Perseids and the perigee moon, of Julia Bishop and the abandoned prison at Aberdeen Lake, of finding myself stranded so far away from home along with my best friend, really turned out to be a sort of scripted shadow play in which the epileptic boy could choose for himself whether or not he would ever get out of the book.

What was I going to do?

I am an epileptic. I blank out.

I also have heterochromatic eyes, which means they are dif¬ferent colors. Green and blue, if you need to know. People almost never notice it, because most people are afraid to look at other peoples' eyes. I know that because when you have heterochro¬matic eyes, you always look at eyes—always trying to find some¬one else who is like you, like we come from a different planet or something.

Cade Hernandez noticed it one day when we sat in my back¬yard hot tub together, the summer before eighth grade. Cade Hernandez wasn't afraid of anything, especially not looking directly at another guy's eyes.

I have never found another heterochromatic set of eyes to look at, except for ones on the Internet. And they were probably Photoshopped, anyway.

You know what they say about your imagination being limit¬less? Well, that is absolute horseshit. You can't imagine anything if you don't already have a word for it in your head.

Trust me, I know.

If you really want to imagine something, try imagining what it would be like to empty every word from your head and then look at the universe. You'll see nothing at all that you could ever understand. There will be no separation or distinction between object, color, temperature, or sound; there will be neither borders nor edges, no limits or size, and you will smell things and not have any idea at all what is happening.

I get that way sometimes. My head empties out, and I smell something like nameless flowers.

I have never been outside the state of California in the nearly seventeen years that my atoms and molecules have been stuck together, walking around and calling themselves Finn.

Oklahoma, where Cade and I were planning to visit over our last summer vacation from Burnt Mill Creek High School, might just as well have been in a different galaxy as far as my atoms were concerned.

There is actually more empty space between our atoms and molecules than anything solid. It's as though we're all clouds of gas, optical illusions—like how spokes on a spinning bicycle wheel blur invisibly into a solid barrier between hereandthere, thisside and thatside.

It's a wonder we don't all just float away—pfft!—like smoke.

At first, Dad tried to explain it to me as this: My mother simply floated away when I was seven years old.

In truth, a dead horse fell on us.

I know that is an absurd thing to consider—a dead horse falling out of the sky—but it actually happened.

Picture this: We lived in a small cabin in the Sierras of north¬ern California, at a place called Wheelerville, which is located on the Salmon Creek.

Wheelerville was named for Wheeler Caverns, a cave for¬mation. Near the entrance to the caves, there is a bridge across the Salmon Creek Gorge, popular among base parachutists and other crazy people who like to jump from the edge of the span with enormous wrappings of elastic lashed to their ankles. The bridge is aptly named the Salmon Creek Gorge Bridge.

Excerpted from 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith. Copyright © 2014 by Andrew Smith. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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