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.
P.S. This is a book I was so grateful to not have to wait until release day for. Thank you very, very much (you know who you are, both of you) for the advance review copy.
Fan of Andrew Smith? Join in the WINGER Read-a-Thon I am hosting! Grab the banner below, use the hashtag #ReadWINGER, and check my WINGER Read-A-Thon post for updates!
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger(Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year,” and an ALA Top 10 for 2014) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.