Reviewed for this blog by Geri, Ridgefield Library
This is the second book Smith has out this year, and it’s garnered one more star than it’s predecessor Grasshopper Jungle (a title I have HUGE LOVE for and will write about soon).
It doesn’t seem to have as much buzz around it as GJ did, but it’s got some “classic Printz material” in it: a protagonist touched by tragedy, an unusual view of the world, smart teens who are amazingly articulate, and a road trip. OK, I’m being glib, but honestly, Smith writes so realistically about adolescence it is beautiful and can be painful.
100 Sideways Miles is about Finn Easton, a young man who views time as the distance Earth travels through space. (20 miles = 1 second*) He’s a thoughtful kid with a brilliant, if slightly crazed best friend in Cade, and a strong first love in Julia. Finn’s dad is a novelist who had one enormous cult best seller, and Finn, and sometimes the rest of the world, think Finn may just be one of his dad’s characters – made up out of whole cloth.
When an author can make you look at the world differently, while simultaneously making you realize you’re not alone (as the best YA lit can do), I think that’s cause for celebration. Smith deserves to be celebrated, and while Grasshopper Jungle is my personal favorite thing I read this year, it may not have the correct combination of “Printz material” in it, so I hope 100 Sideways Miles can be the title that clinches it for Smith.
*This book, like all the best ones, got under my skin. The other day, during a frustrating moment, I found myself counting “20 miles, 20 miles, 20 miles” under my breath to both mark the passage of time and to calm myself down. Here’s to looking at the same ol’ world in a different way!