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Summary and book reviews of 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

100 Sideways Miles

by Andrew Smith

100 Sideways Miles
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • 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

Book Summary

Destiny takes a detour in this heartbreakingly hilarious novel 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.

Part 1
Perigee Moon
The Quit Mission

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
After losing his mother at a young age in a bizarre accident that left him with a broken back and epilepsy, Finn has been coping but never quite feeling up to meeting life's challenges. With the help of his charismatic best friend, Cade, a heroic rescue in which the two boys ultimately rescue themselves, and the risk of romance with Julia, Finn begins to see everything differently.

Prereading Discussion

Read Maya Angelou's poem Caged Bird. Pay particular attention to images of clipped wings and shadow. Why does the caged bird sing?

Discussion Questions

  1. Finn thinks about time in terms of space. He wonders about cosmological concepts and principles that hold the universe together. What does Finn's ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

100 Sideways Miles, with its quirky mix of past and present, physics and history, will remind some readers of Louis Sachar's Holes - except with a lot raunchier language. In previous novels like Winger and Grasshopper Jungle, Andrew Smith has demonstrated - often to hilarious effect - that he totally gets the mind of the adolescent male. Here, as in his previous books, he also shows that for teenage guys, vulnerability and bravado go hand-in-hand, that friendships and father-son relationships don't have to be treacly to be real and vital, and that buying condoms may, in fact, be simultaneously the most embarrassing and hilarious rite of passage that a young man ever has to undertake...   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review Members Only (559 words).

Media Reviews

VOYA

[The] engaging adventures of two best friends on the verge of adulthood. John Green fans will enjoy Smith's newest novel.

Booklist

Starred Review. Leavened with humor and high-school high jinks, this unpredictable story of love and friendship is close to perfect.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A wickedly witty and offbeat novel...a breathtaking read.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. This will appeal to teens who like novels with a bit of an absurdist edge, such as Libba Bray's Going Bovine.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam

William Mulholland"Self-taught civil engineers are probably as trustworthy as self-taught brain surgeons and self-taught airline pilots," thinks Finn to himself in 100 Sideways Miles. He's thinking about William Mulholland, the engineer better known today as the namesake for Mulholland Drive, home to many famous actors and musicians and the inspiration for the movie of the same name by David Lynch, who once said the road carried "the history of Hollywood."

The road was opened in 1924, but the real-life incident that consumes much of Finn's attention, and that ultimately led to the end of Mulholland's career, happened in 1928. Mulholland was born in Ireland in 1855 and moved to Los Angeles in 1877. There he took odd jobs digging wells, prospecting for ...

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