In the Path of Falling Objects

In the Path of Falling Objects

4.5 11
by Andrew Smith
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, are on their own. All they have left in the world is ten dollars, a backpack full of dirty clothes, and a stack of letters from their older brother, who's fighting in the war. They're on their way to Arizona when they catch a ride from a couple. The girl is friendly—and beautiful. But the man is different, maybe dangerous,

…  See more details below

Overview

Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, are on their own. All they have left in the world is ten dollars, a backpack full of dirty clothes, and a stack of letters from their older brother, who's fighting in the war. They're on their way to Arizona when they catch a ride from a couple. The girl is friendly—and beautiful. But the man is different, maybe dangerous, maybe deadly. It's a good thing Jonah and Simon packed one more thing in their bag . . . a gun.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Smith's Vietnam-era road trip tells the tense, violent and cathartic story of teenage brothers Jonah and Simon, 16 and 14, on the run after their mother abandons them in their New Mexico home. Their older brother, Matt, plans to desert the army, and the brothers all attempt to meet in Arizona. En route, the boys are given a lift by Mitch and Lilly, on the run from Texas. Lilly is pregnant, and Mitch, whose friendly appearance masks a serious psychosis, is taking her somewhere to have an abortion. By the time Jonah becomes aware of the danger Mitch poses, the boys are already trapped in the car with him, and Jonah's developing relationship with Lilly only fuels Mitch's anger. Smith (Ghost Medicine) paints a picture of a bleak time, with Matt's letters from Vietnam highlighting the depressing and frightening lives soldiers led even as the folks back home faced equally uncertain futures. There are moments of bleak, nasty violence, but they rarely appear gratuitous, instead underlining the despair Jonah and Simon feel, and offering something they must transcend. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
Despite the fact that it contains violence and disturbing images such as: a hinted rape, the explicit murder of a coyote, and a crazed killer who winds up stained in his own blood and stalking innocent people hidden in a trailer, this book is strangely engrossing, and, ultimately, even uplifting. Told from several perspectives, this is the story of Jonah and Simon, brothers, who have headed out on the road after being abandoned by their mother. Their hope is to find their older brother, back stateside from the Vietnam War. Their journey takes a detour, however, when they find themselves in a car rolling across the desert with a man who gets scarier by the second and a teenage girl neither one of them can quite bring himself to walk away from. It is a harrowing ride, but it is one that affirms the bond between the brothers and leaves them better off than they were when they started—if not by a whole lot. This is not a warm and fuzzy book. The central characters are likeable but very human—and their humanity gives them depth and grit. This is a book that will be difficult to put down, but it is probably not one that will appeal to the very young. In the hands of the right person, however, this is a powerful story that will leave the reader breathless. Reviewer: Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Falling Objects is a mystical, lyrical, sometimes violent, and ultimately hopeful story of what it means to be a brother. The novel begins with a look back at a murder and quickly moves forward to northern New Mexico and brothers Jonah, 16, and Simon, 14, a dead horse at their feet, a gun in Jonah's backpack, parents nowhere to be found. From the first squashed scorpion, readers feel the heat and hopelessness of the boys' situation. Jonah's most precious possessions are letters from their older brother, who is slowly succumbing to despair in Vietnam. The boys hitch a ride with Mitch, an unstable killer; Lilly, who likes to make Mitch jealous; and a literal tin man who rides in the backseat. Parts of the book are spare and poetic; parts are gritty and grim. Several characters are dead by the last chapter. Despite it all, there is a feeling of closure, as it seems that the brothers could make a new start with a young man they meet, Dalton, and his nontraditional family. For teens looking for something to sink their teeth into, Smith offers a challenging read. Powerful imagery and symbolism are threaded throughout the narrative along with Bible references, a map that Jonah is drawing, a meteorite that Simon takes along as a talisman, and references to gravity and its relentless pull. The intensity will suit serious readers who don't mind a little blood and gore.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Abandoned by their mother, out of food and even water, 16-year-old Jonah and his brother, Simon, two years younger, embark on a brutal but mesmerizing road trip that steers an unswerving course toward tragedy. Traveling from their Southwest desert home toward the Arizona prison their father will soon be leaving, they're picked up by Mitch, a murderous psychopath, and Lilly, 16, pregnant and following the path of least resistance. Mitch's car, a swank classic Lincoln, becomes the scene for much of the action, as Jonah and Simon both fall for Lilly, their poorly concealed interest enraging their unstable traveling companion. Mitch's plan to kill the brothers evolves at a leisurely pace, and horror mounts as Simon falls under his spell. Jonah safeguards letters from eldest brother Matthew, serving in Vietnam, that graphically document a different horror, with multiple killings officially sanctioned but no less brutal. His parallel story, drug- and violence-laced, is slowly revealed. The cold-blooded murders Mitch commits on whim and Matthew's war experiences steer this thriller toward the upper end of the range; older teens will be riveted. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)
From the Publisher

“Falling Objects is a mystical, lyrical, sometimes violent, and ultimately hopeful story of what it means to be a brother. …For teens looking for something to sink their teeth into, Smith offers a challenging read. Powerful imagery and symbolism are threaded throughout the narrative along with Bible references, a map that Jonah is drawing, a meteorite that Simon takes along as a talisman, and references to gravity and its relentless pull. The intensity will suit serious readers who don't mind a little blood and gore.” —School Library Journal

“...16-year-old Jonah and his brother, Simon, two years younger, embark on a brutal but mesmerizing road trip that steers an unswerving course toward tragedy. …[O]lder teens will be riveted.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Smith's Vietnam-era road trip tells the tense, violent and cathartic story of teenage brothers Jonah and Simon, 16 and 14, on the run after their mother abandons them in their New Mexico home.” —Publishers Weekly

“A relentless, bleak thriller that nails the claustrophobic sense of being totally out of control, and moving fast.” —Booklist

“The setting is vivid, the plot (including a thrilling showdown) is suspenseful, and the characters are complex and intriguing, particularly in their interactions with one another. It's a wilderness survival adventure wherein the characters have to survive each other as much as the harsh, unforgiving landscape.” —Horn Book

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312375584
Publisher:
Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
09/29/2009
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The car was a 1940 Lincoln Cabriolet, black and white with broad white-walled tires. Its top was down, and, as it neared, crunching and kicking back the dirt of the road, I saw a man at the wheel and a pretty yellow-haired girl sitting in the front, and there was also what appeared to be a third person sitting bolt-upright in the back seat.

It was as out-of-place in that desert as a sailboat would have been, and it was the kind of car you knew had to carry stories with it, but I had no intention of finding out what those stories told.

“Let’s start walking,” I said. “Just don’t even look at them.”

“We should ask them for a ride.”

“No.” I looked at Simon, then put my head down like I didn’t even know or care about that car coming up alongside us. I began walking forward, just looking at the ground, listening to our feet, the scattering sounds of tires on the gravel and dirt of the road.

I warned Simon again, “Don’t even look at them.”

So I just concentrated on not paying that car any attention. I could hear Simon following along, scooting his feet in the rocks and dirt. And it wasn’t until later, until it was too late for both of us, that I found out Simon was sticking a thumb out to beg a ride.

Meet the Author

Andrew Smith is the author of Ghost Medicine and The Marbury Lens, both of which were named American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. In addition to writing, he teaches high school advanced placement classes and coaches rugby. He lives in Southern California with his family, in a rural location in the mountains.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

In the Path of Falling Objects 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
tisanders More than 1 year ago
Abandoned by their mother, two teenaged brothers head to Arizona from Texas on foot to meet up with their father who is being released from prison and their brother who might soon return from Vietnam. Along the way, they are picked up by a hippie serial-killer named Mitch and a pregnant 16-year-old girl named Lilly. Jonah and Simon both admire the girl and Jonah even develops a relationship with her; however, Mitch's jealousy and odd behavior soon alarm the brothers and they realize they must escape or their lives could be in peril. Readers will be pulled in by the short, suspenseful chapters, the letters from older brother Matthew, and the fear for the characters' future and safety.
GracieGT2 More than 1 year ago
The cover of the book reads, "the road trip from hell" - and it couldn't be more correct. In the Path of Falling Objects is the story of brothers Jonah and Simon as they trek across New Mexico with the faint hope of finding their older brother Matthew, who has been serving in Vietnam, in Arizona. They hitch a ride from two seemingly harmless people: Mitch, a strange young man with the intriguing ability to automatically count things, and Lilly, the beautiful, pregnant teenager with him. What the two boys don't know is that by getting in the car, they are about to embark on a nightmarish journey that they may not return from. The book is a riveting, disturbing thrill ride that will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat until the shattering climax. Although it starts out slow, the moment they get in the car jolts you into a rush of danger, passion, mistrust, violence, jealousy, and a strange claustrophobic sense of being trapped. You become fully engrossed in Jonah's narrative: his frustration at his brother's stubborn petulance, his wariness of Mitch that quickly escalates into terror, his sad, hopeless longing to find his brother, his confusion about his growing feelings for Lilly and whether or not she loves him, too, and his constant desire to protect and look after Simon in the way only a brother can feel. Every other character is perfectly fleshed out as well: Simon, so eager to make his own way into the world he begins taking unnecessary risks; Lilly, a girl desperate for an abortion, trapped by circumstance, but who knows exactly how to manipulate people into getting what she needs; and Mitch, the sick, twisted driver of the vehicle who is mentally unstable and obsessed with Lilly. When she seems to fall for Jonah, the careful tension that Smith has kept up in the novel explodes into chaos that you just can't tear your eyes away from. Mitch makes a thoroughly petrifying villain because of his controlling and unpredictable nature; the passengers don't trust him, but have no other choice if they want to get where they need to be. By the time they realize what Mitch is capable of, it is too late. In the Path of Falling Objects is a completely engrossing, exhilarating, and chilling ride - one you won't soon forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me a fan of Andrew Smith. I couldn't put it down! The pain experienced from being abandoned by their mother and their relationship as brothers is incredibly sad and well written. A must read!
Chancie More than 1 year ago
Unique, dark, and engaging. Really liked it! Not for the faint of heart, but very good. The characters feel a little unrealistic in that they change their morals way too fast, but otherwise, it was definitely a worthwhile read.
Perry-the-Ducktipus More than 1 year ago
This book was both suspenseful and a nice change from the fantasy books I tend to read. Andrew Smith wrote a very riveting story with deep rooted characters. I would recommend this book to any young adult- even adult would enjoy this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago