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100 Sideways Miles
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100 Sideways Miles

3.3 4
by Andrew Smith

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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


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

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Michelle Huneven
…Andrew Smith returns to the big-hearted realism of his prep school/rugby novel, Winger, then adds the hectic pace and catchy rhythms of his recent science fiction romp, Grasshopper Jungle. The result is a coming-of-age story packed with teenage angst, teenage sex (that is, thinking about sex), about 10 million arcane facts, deep metaphysical musing and great lashings of rank humor. That said, 100 Sideways Miles…is more interior and profound than its predecessors, and possibly more beguiling…The great pleasure is the book's bravura narration. Smith has fashioned an audacious, hilarious style, catchy at the sentence level yet lapidary over all.
Publishers Weekly
★ 06/16/2014
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.)
Matt de la Peña
"Winger is one of the most honest and beautifully raw novels I've read in a long time. Ryan Dean is a true original."
starred review BCCB
"The current of genuine warmth that runs through it ensures multiple revisits and enthusiastic sharing."
Len Vlahos
"I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed with, cried with, and rooted harder for a character than Finn Easton. His voice is so strong, so real, that his triumphs and failures felt like they were my own. I seriously loved this book."
author of The Compound S.A. Bodeen
"Finn and Cade are a tag team for the ages. No one does male friendship (or vomit and accidental nudity) better than Andrew Smith."
Horn Book
"An unusual and memorable novel."
A. S. King
"Winger broke my heart, like any great book should. Andrew Smith is a brave and talented storyteller who blows me away every time. Readers will love Ryan Dean West. This book is powerful, sweet and heart-wrenching."
Matt de la Pena
"Winger is one of the most honest and beautifully raw novels I've read in a long time. Ryan Dean is a true original."
starred review Booklist
*"This unpredictable story of love and friendship is close to perfect."
New York Times Book Review A. J.Jacobs
"Amusing and touching in a “Looking for Alaska,” meets Rabelais meets “Friday Night Lights” kind of way.”
starred review Shelf Awareness
* "Smith's masterful narrative of the hormonal yet insightful teenage boy flows smoothly throughout the novel...an unforgettable and unflaggingly appealing voice...A classic coming-of-age story that combines humor and heartbreak in just the right amounts."
"Andrew Smith crafts something in Winger that will have you thinking about the things you choose to say and those you leave unsaid."
"Sharp, funny, and perceptive about youthful male friendships. Readers who enjoy stylistically interesting stories about underdogs in boy world may therefore still find this witty and entertaining."
"A reader looking to pigeonhole Winger into a traditional genre category may be in for a surprise. It’s a laugh-out-loud funny sports story set at a boarding school, but it’s also a serious look at the many different forms of love—and a subtle meta-narrative about the process of telling a story...Reminiscent of Looking for Alaska, Winger packs a punch that will leave readers rethinking their assumptions about humor, friendship and the nature of storytelling—and about the broad range of emotions of which teenage boys are capable."
You're not going to find futuristic fantasies or superpowers in Andrew Smith's young adult novel Winger. Fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West's life at a boarding school for the wealthy is by all accounts ordinary — he has an unrequited crush on his female best friend, and he has to share a room with his rugby team's biggest bully — but that's also Winger''s" appeal.
John Corey Whaley
“I am seriously moved beyond words after finishing this beautiful, hilarious, and heart-exploding book. Reading Winger is like running down a steep hill—you should probably slow down, but it feels too good to stop. Andrew Smith has written a wildly original, hilarious, and heartbreaking ode to teenage confusion and frustration. You'll devour it and then go back for more."
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Jennifer Miskec
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 bland—he 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 second—he is balanced by his over-the-top best friend, who is rumored to have bugged his history teacher—literally—to 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. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec; Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-01
A wickedly witty and offbeat novel involving (among many other things) best friends, first love, classroom behavior outrageous enough to bring about a teacher's aneurysm and a stunningly described shadow-puppet show. Sixteen-year-old Finn Easton has his share of struggles. A bizarre childhood accident killed his mother and left him epileptic. Further, he has spent much of his life living down public assumptions, as his father penned a controversial, well-known science-fiction novel that featured a protagonist also named Finn. However, none of this stops him and his larger-than-life best friend, Cade Hernandez, from participating in wildly funny misdeeds. These include leading a chant of "Oldfucker! Oldfucker!" to welcome the governor, who is cursed with the phonetically similar name Altvatter, at a school assembly and participating in perhaps the most hilarious condom-buying scene ever imagined. Yet the story also offers nuance and depth, including but not limited to Finn's headlong, sweetly real stumble into love with a girl named Julia, vivid descriptions of Southern California canyon country, Finn's touchingly honest, kind relationship with his dad, and his fascinating habit of viewing time in terms of miles rather than minutes. All of this and so many more exquisite details make this a breathtaking read. (Fiction. 14 & up)
recommended by Lisa Yee
"If you're a young boy and a dead horse falls off a bridge, kills your mother, and leaves you with deep scars — and you're prone to epileptic seizures — you'd come to expect the unexpected. Still, it doesn't mean you have to like it. In the shadow of his best friend, the popular and athletic Cade, and forever tied to his fictional namesake in his father's best-selling sci-fi novel, Finn has trouble figuring out who he's supposed to be. Then he meets a new girl and for the first time writes his own story. Hilarious and heartbreaking, you'll be rooting for Finn all the way."

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

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.

  • Meet the Author

    Andrew Smith is the author of several award-winning novels for young adults. He lives in a very remote area in the mountains of Southern California with his family, two horses, two dogs and three cats. He doesn’t watch television and occupies himself by writing, bumping into things outdoors, and taking ten-mile runs on snowy trails. He maintains a blog and website about his strange writing life at GhostMedicine.Blogspot.com.

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    100 Sideways Miles 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
    Chancie More than 1 year ago
    Had a very hard time getting into it, but I think it is my own fault. I am seeking something as bizarrely twisted as Smith's "Marbury Lens" series, and I can't find it. Good book for someone who is genuinely a young teen, but I had a hard time connecting with anything in it. Well written, but still not my cup of tea.
    MissPrint More than 1 year ago
    Everyone I know is a huge fan of Andrew Smith. I can see why after reading through 100 Sideways Miles. This is really what reviewers mean when they talk about literary novels but, happily here, with a bit of teen appeal and humor as well. Finn is an authentic and approachable narrator in a world that blend hard truths and absurdist-levels of humor very well. Unfortunately I made the absolute worst choice in picking this book as the Andrew Smith title I would try. Finn, the narrator, suffers from seizures thanks to the dead horse that fell on both him and his mother when Finn was young. The story is quirky, fun and very well-done. But it also was extremely painful for me to read because it brought back bad memories of my mother having seizures and needing surgery--things that I didn't want to relive while reading a novel. If you don't have that personal baggage, this book is definitely worth a look.
    Jazzie More than 1 year ago
    A funny and honest story of growing up Note: This review contains NO spoilers I actually had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Smith at the L.A. Times Festival of Books! And with many recommendations from friends, I finally read one of his books! And what an amazing read this is! Full of wit, sarcasm, and an honest take on the ups & downs and pitfalls of growing up through the eyes of a teenage boy. This is definitely not a glitzy, romantic story of teens dealing with what life has to throw at them. Andrew Smith has written a cast of well developed main and supporting characters set in the backdrop of somewhere in Southern California. Andrew's main character Finn goes through the motion of living his young life in "miles" not minutes, all the while trying to figure it out. Andrew gives a quirky and refreshing, yet honest, tale of a boy's pitfalls in growing up. ..with a lot of growing pains. It was also so very refreshing that this book didn't revolve around a romance! Yay!  What else can I say!?! I'm pretty much going to just regurgitate the same words, in different ways, over and over again. It was that amazed that I am at a loss for words. Anyways, I would have to say that this is a book that everyone, from parents to all teens, should read! Granted there is language that can be...um, vulgar, but...seriously, who doesn't swear from time to time!?! The majority of teenagers today...curse! LOL! From beginning to end, Andrew Smith delivered a quirky and honest story of growing up and growing pains for teenage boys...and girls. Simply put, 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith is an amazing read that makes every "little" thing in a teenagers life that much more important and significant enough to make a difference in growing up. Andrew has this knack to intertwine wit, sarcasm, humor, and real life into his works of fiction...that is simply a must read!
    Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
    There are many words I could use to describe Finn but the best choice would be resilient. So far, his childhood has not been easy and the incidents that have occurred are not easy ones to explain, in fact the story of the incident with his mother left me shaking my head. What are the possibilities of that even happening? His father is a writer, and the story he wrote has caused quite a stirring among the public. Is his son Finn, the character in the story and was this book really a science fiction novel? Finn’s best friend is Cade and how I adored this child. As an adult, I can see how he could get under my skin and leave me speechless at his inquiries, as these are not your typical questions for school. He’s relentless, he plows through, asking the teacher questions, with such convictions without laughing as the teacher bellows, the class hysterical and yet he’s calm. Cade and Finn are perfect for each other. Cade pushes Finn, not in a bad way just makes him face the facts. When Cade takes him to 7 Eleven, now that was a total shopping experience for everyone. Finn starts to lose brain cells when Julia shows up at the end of the school year as he don’t know what to say when he is around her. All he knows is that he wants more of her when she’s not there. It not long before Finn, Cade and Julia are hanging out together. The three of them mesh, as they have a great friendship while Finn and Julia work on trying to be a couple. Finn is having his epileptic seizures quite often and I admire the way his friends handle his medical issue. There could be a better to address this issue but Finn is too busy at the moment with other things in his life. The friends discover life and they found fortitude within themselves