Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Format read: E-ARC via Edelweiss
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.
Smith introduces us to sixteen-year-old Finn Easton, an epileptic teenager with heterochromatic eyes and a complicated past. Finn has spent most of his life trying to figure out how to move beyond the physical attributes which define him, something that's not entirely easy when he's also the son of a acclaimed novelist whose most famous novel just happens to be about a young man with epilepsy and heterochromatic eyes.
(How 'bout them apples?)
Smith charts Finn's journey from a confused young man who feels like he's been defined by, or "trapped" in the pages of his father's book, to someone who begins to recognize his own power and autonomy, in a coming-of-aged journey that is both classic, while also contradictory standing on in its own right.
On the one hand, Finn has the classic rambunctious best friend in Cade, who has that no-holds barred attitude that continues to push and challenge Finn at every turn. His ability to mouth off - especially about sex - at every given opportunity, is seriously an art in it of itself. There's also Julia, the quintessential love interest. She's mysterious, she's talented and she happens to like Finn, despite having first been introduced to him via extremely embarrassing circumstances.
Together, they form the basis of why Finn wants to look beyond the limitations of physical circumstances, and why he begins to feel the urge to move forward. But it's really Finn's unique world view on life and the (in)significance of the human experience that propels him into taking the next step.
Finn begins to realize that there's strength in the way he thinks - he views the world in terms of miles verses time, and has beautiful thoughts on the formation and recycling atoms - and he uses those world views to help his forays into first love with Julia, his unexpected road trip with Cade, and the (res)establishment of his relationship with his father.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
I've seen some reviews question Finn's maturity, and his belief that Julia would actually want to have sex with him, despite being told of her fairly tragic sexual history.
Personally, I thought that was an absolutely fair response for Finn to have. Yes, he empathizes with Julia's past completely, and mentions that if he had the power, he would "...would push the world back all those miles with [his] bare hands to make it change direction," to prevent anything bad from happening to her, even if it means them not meeting.
But at the end of the day, this is also a very young man with very strong feelings for a young woman, who doesn't necessarily have the maturity to connect his desires with Julia's background. To him, they're separate events.
If anything, I would argue that the hundreds of thousands of miles that he journeys throughout this book, eventually allows him to develop the depth to make that connection (amongst other connections) better.
This is definitely one of those books that isn't easily explained - seriously, just look at the reviews -but is guaranteed to stun and charm readers once they actually begin reading.
I highly recommend this book for all readers. Finn will work his way into your heart as you read, and you won't be forgetting him anytime soon.
About the author:
Andrew Smith is the author of several award-winning novels for young adults. He lives in a very remote area in the mountains of Southern California with his family, two horses, two dogs and three cats. He doesn’t watch television and occupies himself by writing, bumping into things outdoors, and taking ten-mile runs on snowy trails. He maintains a blog and website about his strange writing life at GhostMedicine.blogspot.com.