Reading Andrew Smith’s books reminds me of reading Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. There’s a refrain throughout each, and if he throws in aliens, you just accept it and move on, because the rest of the book contains so much truth. In 100 Sideways Miles, the refrain especially reminded me of “and so it goes” but it was more of a punctuation mark :|:
Finn Eastman has: a dog Laika (after the Soviet space dog); a best friend Cade Hernandez (nicknamed Win-Win); and occasional seizures (the result of a traumatic childhood event). He also measures time in miles and the universe in atoms. He thinks: “The universe is nothing but this vast knackering of churning black holes and exploding starts, constantly freeing atoms that collect together and become something else, and something else again.”
While his best friend has many talents, including pushing the limits of their crazy history teacher who enjoys dressing up as historic figures, Finn believes: “My natural talent, I think, is in being fine–no matter what is actually going on inside me.”
Once again, Andrew Smith captures what it means to be a teenager and what it means to be human. His characters always stay with me for a few days after I read the books. I begin to see the world through their perspectives. And there are always passages I write down and /or tweet because his ability to put old ideas into new words is unparalleled. I’m thrilled to know Smith will be at NCTE in a few weeks in Washington, DC (as well as ALAN, although I personally can’t make it to that).
- “You can’t imagine anything if you don’t already have a word for it in your head.”
- “I suppose the things that transform your life don’t appear as you fancifully imagine they will.”
- “When we think about all the miles in back of us, it’s easy to feel regret–sometimes because of the things we didn’t do, sometimes for the things we did.”
- “Books are the knackeries to what is real.”