Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Book Review Club - Shift

Shift
Jennifer Bradbury
May 2008
Atheneum
ISBN: 978-1-4169-4732-5
Retail: $16.99

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.

14 comments:

Thao said...

Definitely a great read for summer and esp to those who are to go to college. Great review.

PJ Hoover said...

yeah, I felt like biking across the country after reading it too. Of course that would be sans responsibilities!

kathyholmes said...

I love,love,love stories like this. I read "Walk Across America" and "Walk Across France." Will have to read this one.

Barrie said...

This book is in my TBR pile. Literally. I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the review, Stacy!

Tabitha said...

I LOVED this book. Jen did an amazing job with it, and it's rich in the art of craft.

Sarah Laurence said...

I’m so glad you reviewed this book. I’ve been interested since it shares the same title as my friend Charlotte Agell’s YA that came in 2008 too. Bradbury’s Shift also won an ALA award. I like to bike to unwind from writing, and it’s the best way to get around town at this time of year. Terrific review of what looks like an interesting read.

Sarahlynn said...

Suddenly I, too, am thinking about biking!

As for the cross-country trip, though, I get stuck on the idea of that little bump in the middle (aka The Rockies).

Stacy Nyikos said...

Yeah, the Rockies would be a tough climb on a bike, but man, the feeling of accomplishment must be amazing.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh, that does sound good.

Ellen Booraem said...

I loved this book. It's a really compelling mystery AND a great bike trip story AND the characters stay with you. What more could you want?

kaye said...

great review, sounds like a good book. I'm of an age where biking across the country does not appeal to me. But I did take a train ride that was very lovely and accomodating.

Pen Pen said...

I need to go get myself a copy! I need a summer read for the pool!!

gabe said...

I've always liked this book's title. Must read. What a great excuse for a long bike ride - research. :)
Was this done before or after tying the knot?

Sarahlynn said...

We rented bikes yesterday and took a whole family ride. I think this review was largely to blame!