Friday, October 03, 2008
2008; Atheneum (Simon & Schuster); 978-1-4169-4732-5 (hardcover)
How far does friendship goes?
That's the central question in Shift, the debut novel by Jennifer Bradbury. The summer between high school and college, Chris and his best friend, Win, decide to take a cross-country bike trip. But a few hundred miles from the West Coast, they have a fight and split up. Chris makes it to the Pacific, then catches a bus for home and starts college.
Win doesn't. And his disappearance sets into motion Chris's reflections on his friendship with Win and how their trip changed both of them.
Alternating chapters tell the story of the bike ride and the present mystery, showcasing the actions and feelings of Chris. Also worth noting is that Chris is solidly middle class--maybe even lower middle class. He worries about money, sometimes feels envious of Win's wealth, and is happy to get a rebuilt bike for a graduation gift. In fact, it's the threat of financial pressure getting put on his family by Win's rich father that compels Chris to discover Win's whereabouts.
Shift is an enjoyable mystery, suitable for older middle schoolers. Bradbury creates an interesting, page-turning read, one that is a great option for reluctant boy readers and the sports fans in your library.