Parents' Guide to

100 Sideways Miles

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Fabulous, thought-provoking tale about a boy with epilepsy.

100 Sideways Miles Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

Way too much swearing!

The F word in one variation or another appears at least 10 times in the first 47 pages, with lots of others thrown in for good measure. I think there must have been a contest as well to see how many times the writer could say "boner" as well. Lots of talk about male genitals and focus on them. A main sub story is getting condoms from the drug store to have sex with his girlfriend, and a friend that drinks excessively. No suitable for young teens.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 13+

Amazing contemporary fiction for boys.

Finn Easton is a 16 year-old boy living in the middle of no-where, California. Finn never tells anyone how he really feels. He is very good at just "being fine." He's okay. Always okay. Except he's not, really. This is the story of Finn's becoming more than okay with who he is. The journey of an epileptic, baseball-playing, poetic, never-been-kissed teenage boy. And it is a journey that all boys someday go on: how to escape from the book of their life and write their own story. By the second chapter I had a crystal clear picture of who Finn Easton was, what he sounded like, and how he felt about everything. This is character building; it is connecting to your reader; it is identifying with a fictional human being. This is great writing. Finn Easton is a poet, and that is the truth. His narrative is a hypnotic, colorful whirlwind of words coalescing into unexpected poetry as it falls from the page into your head. Finn is a boy with problems. As a little kid his mother was killed by a horse falling from a bridge, and that same horse broke Finn's back. Finn has epileptic seizures. He lives constantly under the shadow of his father's most famous book, which features a boy very much like Finn himself. One summer, Finn meets a girl, and he falls in love with this girl. After Julia moves back home, Finn and his best friend Cade go on an unexpected road trip to plan the rest of their lives. Next, I want to devote an entire paragraph to Cade Hernandez, Finn's best friend, so I will. Just, Cade, okay? Cade Hernandez is a god among boys. He is everything. Confident, attractive, funny, bold, the best friend a guy could ever have. But there are moments, and in those moments I know that Cade is even more than everything. He is loneliness. He is longing. He is the truth about boys and that's how it is. I love that kid. He reminds me of Conner Kirk from The Marbury Lens, and I love that kid, too. These best friends in Andrew Smith's book are simply the most well-written characters I've ever discovered. Don't be afraid of the horse on the cover. You'll discover something mesmerizing inside. Like all the words in your head just spill right out, until before you know it you're filled right up with "Twenty miles, twenty miles, twenty miles," and then you've traveled 60 miles sideways across the face of the Earth and you didn't even know it. This is a book for every reader. Girls, boys, parents, new adults. Sure, go ahead and recommend it to them. Especially girls who like books by John Green. Boys who don't like to read, or have a hard time sticking with a book. Anyone looking for a refreshing contemporary teen book that isn't mired down in love triangles. Yes, you. This book is for you.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Andrew Smith is a phenomenal author who's among the best writers of male adolescence in contemporary literature. Yes, he's that good. He captures the ethos of teen boyhood -- pimples, pranks, penis jokes, and all -- and adds in the deep and mind-boggling ways young adults and not-quite-men question the marvels of the universe, starting with their own strange histories. Finn is tired of being the "boy in the book," particularly when that book is about alien invaders who want to rape and eat people (but that's his dad's crazy story, not his). What Finn wants is to hang out with Cade, and once he meets Julia, he just wants to be with her, kiss her, and think about being with and kissing her. But no matter how hard Finn tries, he can't stop thinking about the fateful day a horse headed to a knackery (rendering plant) killed his mom and changed his life.

Finn's quirky journey of self-discovery is not for every reader, particularly those who just want escapist romances or definable genre stories. Nothing about Smith's books is superficial or easy to describe. And that's more than fine, because Smith is a stellar wordsmith who gets that the same 16-year-old guy who cracks up at his best friend's elaborate pranks and obsesses about the indignity of never having kissed a girl also can describe his seizures as a beautiful emptying of words and the inevitability of death as "the knackery never shuts down." Smith provides his readers with another pivotal father-son relationship, one in which the father and son truly know, respect, and love each other, even when ugly, regrettable teen words are spoken. He also portrays young love as more than a lust-fueled (although, yes, there is lust, too) endeavor but as a meeting of open minds and tender hearts. Few authors can make you think, laugh, and cry all at once, but Smith can and does with every one of his novels.

Book Details

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