Monday, August 18, 2008

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

Win and Chris have been best friends since elementary school. After high school they set out for an epic cross country bike trip (bike as in bicycle, as in powered by your own energy type bicycle, as in my legs hurt just thinking about it bicycle). They plan, they save, they mark out their route, and they set off right after graduation. They knew it would be big, life changing big, but Chris never expected how much would actually change. After he must stop because of a flat tire, Chris is deserted by Win who keeps riding. Not only a total jerkwad maneuver, but also one that immediately precedes his disappearance. Now Chris is at school and there is an investigator breathing down his neck. An investigator that thinks Chris might have had something to do with Win’s disappearance.

Shift alternates between present day and the bike trip. It is an extremely effective way to tell this story. It builds suspense, it gives us greater insight into both of the boy’s psyches, it builds the story inch by inch, and it allows us to fully experience the before and after.

As Chris retells the story of his road trip he has the advantage of time passing so that he can fully reflect on the experience, words spoken, glances given and tie events together to expose hidden motives in a way that slowly builds the reader’s understanding of what really went on.

As mysteries go it is a fairly quiet one. It is not a violently charged story. It is more about how pressures in our life can lead us down certain paths. It is about decisions, responsibility, and friendship. It is a story that will inspire its readers to take risks and go on an epic journey of their own.

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