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Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

y Jennifer Bradbury

Publishing Information: Atheneum: New York, 2008
ISBN: 9781416947325
: 256 p.
Ages: 13 & Up

When best friends Chris and Win go on a cross-country bicycle trek the summer after graduating and only one returns, the FBI wants to know what happened.

Book Talk:
When Chris Collins and Winston Coggans take off on a post-graduation cross-country bike trek, Chris's hopes are high. He's looking forward to seeing the country, dodging a dull summer at a minimum wage job, and having one final adventure with his oldest friend. The journey from Hurricane, West Virginia to the coast of Washington state delivers all those things... and more.

So much more that when Chris returns home without Win at the end of the summer, he's certain their 10 year friendship is all but over. But when an FBI agent begins asking questions—and raising suspicions about Chris—he learns that saying goodbye to a friend like Win is never as simple as riding away. Shift offers an adventure story and a missing persons tale spinning around a single question: What happens when you outgrow your best friend? (from the author’s website)

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Best friends
Family Problems
Missing Persons

Awards & Reviews:
Texas Tayshas Reading Lists, 2009
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009

Booklist, March 1, 2008, p. 66 (Starred Review)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
, June 1, 2008
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2008 (Starred Review)
Library Media Connection, August 1, 2008
Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2008, p. 62
School Library Journal, May 1, 2008, p. 120
Teacher Librarian, December 1, 2008
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, June 1, 2008

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Shift uses chapters alternating between flashbacks and current action. How does this structure allow readers to see the changes the trip brought about in Chris? In Win?
  2. How do the events in the flashbacks complement the action in the present day chapters? Vice versa?
  3. Chris and Win are in large part defined by their relationships with their fathers. Compare and contrast the two men and their influences on their sons.
  4. Chris and Win encounter a number of adventures and strange moments out on the road. Pick a favorite and discuss how it contributes to what you think is one of the books themes. 
  5. After being friends for years, Chris and Win experience a dramatic change in that friendship that leads Chris to some startling realizations about what it means to discover who he truly is. Have you had experiences where you held on too long to a friendship or relationship without meaning to?

Plan your own adventure.  Pick a route to travel across the United States, decide on your mode of transportation and whom you'd want as a traveling companion.  What adventures would you hope to have?  What things would you look forward to learning about your traveling partner?

Related Websites:
Author's Website -
Bicycle trails, cycling routes, bike maps-
Bicycling Magazine-
Bike Rhode Island-
Cycling performance tips- http://
Great bicycle trails Rhode Island-
The Official website of USA cycling

The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty, 2004
Burning City by Ariel & Joaqun Dorfman, 2005
In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg, 2008
Olympic Dream by Matt Christopher, 1996
Africatrek: A Journey by Bicycle through Africa by Dan Buettner, 1997
Bike Trekking: Have Fun, Be Smart by Chris Hayhurst, 2000
The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling: Build the Strength, Skills, and Confidence to Ride as Far as You Want by Edmund R. Burke & Ed Pavelka, 2000

Other Books by the Authors:
This is the author's debut novel

About the Author:
Jennifer Bradbury is an English teacher living in Burlington, Washington. She and her husband took a two-month long bicycling trek from Charleston, South Carolina, to Los Angeles, California for their honeymoon, changing more than fifty flat tires along the way. She was also a one-day winner of Jeopardy! Shift is her first novel. (from the author’s web site)

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair