BookPage Teen Top Pick, September 2014

Set near the San Francisquito Canyon in Los Angeles County, 100 Sideways Miles is the coming-of-age tale of one teen who learns to live with the tragedies and oddities of his life using his own unique type of mathematical coping.

Finn Easton is 16 years old, suffers from sporadic epileptic seizures, and is the inspiration for the main character in his father’s best-selling novel The Lazarus Door—though his father vehemently denies it. Finn lost his mother in a freak accident that involved a truck, which was carrying a dead horse destined for the knackery, overturning on a bridge and spilling its cargo onto Finn and his mother, who were idly climbing in the creek below.

Ever since that tragic day, Finn has been calculating time by way of space. Believing that the distance between things is far more important than the time between them, Finn figures time in miles rather than minutes, as they are easier for him to mentally grasp whenever he comes back from “blanking out” during one of his seizures. And when Julia Bishop, the intriguing new girl in town and Finn’s first crush, finds him passed out on his den floor in a puddle of his own urine, he wants nothing more than to distance himself from her. But Julia has enjoyed sharing Finn’s time and space, and she is determined to invade both so that he can understand true closeness.

100 Sideways Miles is Andrew Smith’s ninth young adult novel, and it’s filled with the type of offbeat hilarity and superbly memorable characters found in his previous books, such as Winger and Grasshopper Jungle. Finn’s honest, natural voice reveals a young man learning to handle health issues, death and unwanted attention during a time when every action and reaction is measured by its social significance.

 

Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.

This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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