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

    Paperback:
    Sep 2015, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


Cade's plan was simple. Even the dumbest kids could follow it.

The plan involved having every one of us give exactly the same pattern of responses on the BEST Test. And we all did it too. When the testing week came around, every single sopho¬more at Burnt Mill Creek High School bubbled in the following four responses, over and over and over:

C-A-D-E

Naturally, I'd expressed my skepticism over the lack of Bs, but Cade argued that it didn't matter, since the only people who gave a shit about the BEST Test were bureaucrats and politicians.

"Well, what if they close our school down and fire all the teachers or something?" I'd said.

"Really, Finn? Really? "

Cade Hernandez could even get me to do whatever he wanted.

And we did not find out until the following year just how effective Cade Hernandez's Quit Being Individuals mission would actually turn out to be.

Like most of the boys who played ball for the Burnt Mill Creek High School Pioneers, Cade "Win-Win" Hernandez chewed tobacco.

I did not, however.

I think the boys on the team never would have picked up the habit if our coaches didn't do it so often; if they never spoke the praises of the tradition of chewing tobacco in the dugout, like it was part of becoming a man, part of the game itself.

Our batting coach, a man named John Ritchey, had such rot¬ten gums from his habit of tobacco chewing that he actually lost one of his lower incisors during a practice session. He didn't care at all. Coach Ritchey spit the entire tooth—root and all—onto the clay of the batting cage at Pioneer Field. The tooth looked like one of those Halloween candy corns that had been boiled in sewage. Most of the boys watched in a kind of hero worship combined with fear and tobacco-buzzed disgust.

Coach Ritchey's tooth became a sort of religious artifact for the team, like the bones or dried innards from a Catholic saint. Somebody—and I am certain it was Cade Hernandez—must have picked the thing up, because Coach Ritchey's rotten tooth had a way of showing up in a randomly selected boy's sanitaries, cap, or athletic supporter before every game we played.

It was such good fun.

"One of these days, they are going to kick you out of school for all the shit you do, and I will have to walk here, or hitchhike and risk getting picked up by a child molester or some shit," I said.

"Your dad or stepmom would drive you," Cade said.

"I don't want to ride with my parents. What eleventh-grade boy rides with his parents? They treat me like too much of a baby as it is. I'd rather take my chances with the molesters."

Cade Hernandez drove a two-year-old Toyota pickup. Every day, we left school for lunch but came back for last-period base¬ball practice. Our season ended that first week in May, not so victoriously for the Burnt Mill Creek High School Pioneers.

We'll get 'em next year. Cade looked me over and answered, "I think you're safe as far as perverts are concerned, Finn. Just sayin'. I mean, you're pretty damn ugly."

"Yeah."

Of course he was joking. Cade Hernandez and I looked so much alike that people who didn't know us often thought we were brothers. We both were tall and bony, and blond headed, too. Cade kept his hair trimmed short, and he had a very sparse golden beard that went from his sideburns and curled almost invisibly just around the lower edge of his jaw. I didn't have the first nub growing out of my face yet, and my hair was long and unruly.

Cade Hernandez's parents were immigrants from Argentina. He made up wild stories about being the great-grandson of an escaped Nazi-breeding-camp doctor.

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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