Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Review: Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

Book: Shift
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Published: 2008

Best friends since middle school, Chris and Win have the summer between high school and college all planned out. They're going to bike from coast to coast, West Virginia to California. They're going to see the country, camp out under the stars every night, and have the adventure of their lives.

But things don't work out that way. Only Chris makes it to the Pacific. Somewhere in Montana, Win took off on his own and Chris was just sick enough of his best friend to let him. He assumed Win went to Seattle as planned, then back home and on to Dartmouth and the glittering future that awaits him as Winston Coggans III.

Now it looks as if that's not the case. Nobody's heard from Win in several weeks, and Chris was the last one to see him alive, which brings a dark cloud of suspicion over him. As the search continues, and the pressure from the influential Coggans family grows, Chris begins to realize that Win simply doesn't want to be found. Would a true friend seek him out or let him disappear?

This book is unusual in that it's about the end of a friendship, rather than the beginning of one or the continuation of one. And yet, it's not about betrayal, which is the most popular way to lose a friend in YA novels. It's just about two boys becoming very different men from each other.

Alternating chapters between Chris-and-Win during the summer and Chris dealing with the mess Win left behind, Bradbury builds a mystery that comes slowly clearer in parallel threads. My only whinge is that for all the fussing about the powerful and vindictive Mr. Coggan and what he could do to Chris's family, no mention is made at the end of how they'll deal with this threat. But it's just one element in an otherwise tightly written and compelling narrative.

Don't miss this book about those times in your life when the most loving thing you can do is let go.


Anonymous said...

This was truly an amazing story! It was very inspiring and it was a well thought through book, keeping me going until the last page. I'm sure anyone who reads this story will fall in love with it because it tells an incredible tale about life experiences, and the bonds that friendships make. This is one book you wouldn't want to miss out on- it's one in a million!

Anonymous said...

I'm doing a project on this book and I can't remember what city Chris and Win grew up in in West Virginia...Can you help me out?:)

Bibliovore said...

Sorry, A2, it's been too long since I read this book. Good luck!