Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved. Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.
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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 is a book I am so grateful to not have to wait until September for. Thank you very, very much (you know who you are, both of you) for the advance review copy.