Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith

Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, have a hard life , and it’s about to get tougher. Their junkie dad’s in prison, their mom’s abandoned them, and their older brother is off fighting in Vietnam. They ran out of food at home and their electricity has been turned off. Jonah convinces his younger brother, Simon, to hit the road. Angry Simon, unbeknownst to Jonah sticks out his thumb and they end up hitching a ride with Mitch, a sociopath, and his pregnant companion, Lilly. After an intense opening murder scene, the book only grows bloodier during the journey through the southwestern desert. The story is told from each characters viewpoint, including letters from Simon and Jonah’s brother in Vietnam. These letters become more and more depressed, paralleling Simon and Jonah’s increasingly violent and desperate situation. They are unable to either stop or get away from Mitch who is becoming increasing agitated and psychotic. Like all great psychopathic characters, Mitch becomes the focus of the reader’s thoughts for most of the story, but Smith also deftly layers in sibling dynamics that are both supportive and combative. It is the coming of age of the relationship between siblings. They turn from scrappy brothers into best friends.


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