Andrew Smith

100 Sideways Miles

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100 Sideways Miles Summary

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100 Sideways Miles is the ninth young adult novel by award-winning author Andrew Smith. It follows the life of 17-year-old Finn, an introverted teenager who suffers from seizures, and who lost his mother when he was young. The book was a semifinalist for the National Book Award. Michelle Huneven of the New York Times called it “more beguiling and more profound” than Smith’s previous novels.

Finn Easton is a quiet teenager who lives in the mountains of California with his father, stepmother, and half-sister. Finn is a rather strange teenager for several reasons, namely, the fact that he suffers from seizures, has two different colored eyes, and thinks of time as a measurement of distance rather than seconds or minutes. When Finn was seven, a horse fell off of a truck while he and his mother were walking under a highway overpass, and she died. Finn was injured in the accident, leading to several notable scars on his back and his seizure condition. Although most people in his life look at his seizures as a negative disorder, Finn is actually fond of his seizures and calls them “beautiful.”

Finn’s best friend is a kid his same age named Cade Hernandez. Cade and Finn are extremely different, but they agree on topics like the standards of conformity and behavior imposed on them by their school, and baseball. They also look alike, and people often confuse them as siblings. Cade has an ongoing habit of tormenting their professor Mr. Nossik, who he thinks is an old-fashioned racist. Cade mocks the school’s ideals in other ways as well. He embarks on a project to make everyone the same, and rallies every sophomore student to fill in the letters C-A-D-E for every answer on a standardized test. Finn often worries that Cade will get kicked out of school.

Finn’s stepmother is named Tracy. They get along well and he even refers to her as “mom.” He has no memory of the accident that killed his biological mother. As he grows into his later teenage years, he naturally starts to develop an interest in girls. However, he doesn’t know how to talk to them, and is often left in the shadow of Cade, who is sexually adventurous and promiscuous. In a show of unusual behavior for Cade, he gets into a fistfight with a kid named Blake Grunwald on the baseball field.

Finn’s father is a writer, but he hates talking to people. He is most famous for writing a science fiction novel called The Lazarus Door, in which there is a character named Finn who suffers from seizures and feels he doesn’t belong in the world. Although his father claims that this character is not based on the real-life Finn, Finn often feels as though he is trapped in his father’s book. Finn’s father disapproves of Finn’s relationship with Cade, but he doesn’t intervene in their friendship

Finn is a good student and works as an “office concierge” at school. He starts to develop a crush on a new girl named Julia Bishop when he is asked to escort her around the school. Right after meeting Julia, Cade comes to stay with Finn for a week while Finn’s parents are out of town. Finn complains to his mom that he never gets to go anywhere, and she reminds him that they’ll be visiting a university in Oklahoma soon to check out their baseball program. As soon as his parents leave, Cade convinces Finn to have a party at the house. Julia comes to the party. They leave their house to go to Blake Grunwald’s house. Julia and Finn walk to Julia’s house to get her car so that she can drive because she hasn’t been drinking. Julia and Finn start to bond.

Cade makes fun of their teacher Mr. Nossik in class again. The next day, the teacher dies from a brain aneurysm, giving Cade a reputation not to be messed with. Finn officially feels that he is in love with Julia Bishop. As their relationship develops, he learns that she moved to California from Chicago because her ex-boyfriend raped her. Finn asks Cade for help buying condoms, thinking that it might be time to have sex with Julia. Cade is impressed but also slightly jealous that his friend is now having sex too. The condoms Cade gives Finn are expired, so they go to the 7-11 to buy more, and end up running into someone they know from school. Finn and Julia do not end up having sex even though they are in love. Julia makes the decision to go back to Chicago, and Finn is heartbroken. He asks her if he will ever stop feeling like he is stuck in a book. The two promise to meet each other again.

Cade and Finn leave on their road trip to Oklahoma. By pure coincidence, they notice a van in a river with two people inside of it. It turns out to be a boy and an old man. Cade and Finn become heroes after rescuing them. Consequently, they do not feel like continuing on their path to Oklahoma, and instead, decide to drive to Chicago to see Julia. Finn, at least, feels like he finally has some control over his life and his own destiny.