Like many of my selections, I picked up The Path of Falling Objects from the library without even reading the synopsis. Andrew Smith has been kind of a miss, then a hit, and then an even bigger hit for me so when I saw this on the shelf I grabbed it. A few days ago I had a bad experience with a road trip story, so upon starting this one I was a wee bit leery – but when I realized this was going to be a road trip story from Hell things my attitude turned around a bit . . .
After finishing this book I’ve determined I’m officially Andrew Smith’s biggest fan. (Might wanna go ahead and change your locks, Mr. Smith) . . .
The story begins with two brothers (Jonah and Simon) who have been abandoned by their dirty whore of a mother (as a mother I’m allowed to call it as I see it) and are left with no choice but to hitchhike their way to Arizona in order to meet their father upon his release from prison. (In case you didn’t figure it out, this ain’t a feel good story, kids.)
The boys also hope to reunite with their older brother, Matthew, who has been fighting in the Vietnam war and whose letters not only promise he will meet them in Arizona, but make it crystal clear that he is not a soldier who loves the smell of napalm in the morning . . .
The duo get picked up in a 1940 Lincoln Cabriolet by Mitch and Lilly who are en route to California. It’s obvious from the start that Mitch is a bit . . . “off.” At first they think it’s just because he’s a damn dirty hippie . . .
but then they are introduced to a giant tin man statue named “Don Quixote” in the backseat, and Mitch starts bragging about his ability to count objects with just a glance, and some other weird shit. It doesn’t take long to figure out Mitch is less like this . . .
and more like this . . .
That’s when things get really interesting . . .
This is labeled as YA, and I’m not one who is opposed to the label. I will note, however, that this is some gritty YA. There is violence, and sex, and drugs, etc., and I’d definitely steer the younger of the young adult population clear from this selection. This is YA for grown-ups. For all the thrillers I read, this was about the most edge-of-my-seat/shitting my pants story I’ve come across in a long time. I was a nervous wreck. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish this thing in one day. I never would have been able to sleep if I hadn’t!
How a guy can write nothing but coming of age stories, but make them all so different from each other and fill each with characters you just want to know, and love, and fix, and hug is beyond me. But he does it time and again and I think he does it better than anyone else. This book has like NO ratings/reviews. Why? Read it. Everyone. In the entire universe.