Jen and I spoke together on a panel at NCTE, and I got her book then. I've been meaning to read it ever since. I'm so glad I finally did.
Shift is the story of two 18 year-old high school graduates, Win and Chris, who bicycle across America the summer before college starts. It's a journey of self discovery, a YA coming of age story about how the journey is the goal, where you end up may not be where you were headed.
The story is told in retrospective. Chapters alternate deftly between reflection and present day events. Win disappears on the trip shortly before the two reach the West Coast. When he doesn't show up to start college at Dartmouth, his wealthy and influential father begins a search for him. He sends his FBI buddy to Chris at Georgia Tech to start the search, ultimately forcing Chris to find his friend before Win's father ruins Chris' life.
Author, Jen Bradbury, took a similar trip with her husband after they were married, a two month trek across America on a bike. Her experiences give this story an organic, I've-been-there feel. It makes me want to pull my mountain bike out of the garage and give it a go. It also reminds me a little of Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance and the idea that nature, landscape, the world around us can only truly be experienced if you put yourself in the middle of it,not watch it pass by through a window.
This is a great summer read. It'll have you longing for open spaces, the taste of a hearty meal after a day of grueling exercise, the welcome softness of the cool earth against your back and the glory of the wide open spaces, creeks, rivers and plains that beckon us to experience them firsthand. If ever there was a road trip book, this is it! Sign me up.
For more great reviews and must reads, head over to Book Review Club central, Barrie Summy's site. There are some real temptations waiting there that even the most reluctant reader won't be able to pass up.