by Jennifer Bradbury
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Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

Some friends fade away….Others disappear. Now in paperback, a riveting mystery that will “keep the pages turning” (Chris Crutcher, author of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes).

Imagine you and your best friend head out West on a cross-country bike trek. Imagine that you get into a fight—the cheap SOB won’t kick in any cash—and you stop riding together. Imagine you reach Seattle, go home alone, and start college. Imagine you think your former best friend does too. Imagine he didn’t, that he was carrying more than $20,000 in cash the whole trip, and that now the FBI is looking for him. Imagine your world shifting....

Shift is a breathtaking tour-de-force that explores the depths of loyalty and friendship—and the unknowable depths of another person.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442408524
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 253,306
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.74(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Jennifer Bradbury is the author of the middle grade novel River Runs Deep and of several critically acclaimed young adult novels: A Moment Comes, Wrapped, and her debut, Shift—which Kirkus Reviews called “fresh, absorbing, compelling” in a starred review. Shift was picked as an ALA and a School Library Journal Best Book for Young Adults and is also on numerous state reading lists. A former English teacher and one-day Jeopardy! champ, she lives with her family in Burlington, Washington.

Read an Excerpt

The nose of the seat bit into my shoulder as the toe clip scraped the back of my thigh. I wrestled the bike through the dorm’s gaping front doors, the derailleur cable snagging on the knob as I stepped inside. I lurched, swore, and hoped none of the half-dozen people hanging around the sweltering lobby were watching. I tried to block out the lingering smells of puke and cheap beer as I headed for the row of mailboxes along the far wall.

Through the glass of box number 118, I saw a small scrap of green paper. As I fumbled in my pocket for my box key, the bike slipped off my shoulder and crashed to the tile floor. I swore again, let the bike lay where it fell, and pulled the message out of the mailbox.

TO: Chris Collins

FROM: Your mommy

RE: Win

NOTES: Call home immediately. Urgent.

I had to start carrying my cell phone. Mom had probably left a couple of messages on it already. She was pretty thorough when she got panicky, and lately she panicked a lot. Part of it was her having a hard time letting go. The other part had more to do with what happened this summer. Still, I couldn’t imagine what qualified as urgent these days with her. Had she found another one of my socks in the dryer?

The desk phone rang. Behind the counter another freshman who’d fared better in the work-study lottery than I had answered while managing to keep his gaze on the TV blaring from across the mock living room, a mixture of sweaty tile, cast-off couches, and giant floor fans that had to have been around since the eighties.

“Armstrong Hall,” he mumbled as I shut the mailbox, shoved the message and key into my pocket, and heaved my bike back onto my shoulder. But then a voice too close made me jump.

“I hear those things are a lot easier if you ride them instead of letting them ride you,” said a man in a dark suit as he gestured toward the bike.

I nodded, looked the guy over. “Chain busted on the way back from the square,” I said, wondering why this guy had decided I looked like I was in a mood for conversation. The tie meant he was probably someone’s dad.

“Too bad,” he said.

I shrugged, causing the bike to slip again, the back wheel banging into the mailboxes. The whole cycling-around-campus thing hadn’t turned out to be as cool as I’d imagined. People in the way. Speed bumps. Crowded sidewalks. Stairs.

I missed the road.

“Nice talking to you,” I said, taking a step toward the hallway.

“You’re Christopher Collins.” No hint of a question in his voice.

I answered anyway, taking another look at him as I did so. He must have been at least six feet tall, because I could look him straight in the eyes without slouching, but he had me by forty pounds, easy. Not that that was surprising. I’d been the skinny kid since second grade.


“Must have a lot of miles on that thing,” he said, pointing toward the chain dangling from the front crank. “They don’t wear out fast, do they?”

My legs began to itch from the inside out. For as long as I can remember, the itching has been an early warning indicator. Anytime I have that feeling, I know something big is on the horizon. The sensation is as reliable as the smell of rain before a storm. “Who are you?” I asked.

“Abe Ward,” he said, reaching into his breast pocket. The gesture allowed the flap of his jacket to fall open, revealing a slick-looking pistol holstered just above his belt. “I’m with the FBI, based here in Atlanta. Mind if I ask you a few questions?” He pulled his hand out of his pocket and flipped open an ID badge with a practiced motion. His voice was even, measured, his forehead dry even in the oppressive heat.

Anytime somebody wants to ask me a few questions, my natural suspicions come into play. But when that person has a gun and flashes an official-looking piece of government ID, I can only say one thing.

“Shoot.” I dropped the bike to the floor and leaned it against the wall.

Mr. Ward actually grinned.

“What’s this about?” I asked.

He ignored my question, gesturing toward a couch in a quieter corner of the room. “This okay with you?”

I nodded. “Sure.” My roommate, Jati, was an international student from Malaysia. If I brought a guy in a suit with a government ID into the room, he’d probably think someone was coming to revoke his visa.

Ward sat. I sank into a chair across from him. A scarred coffee table littered with old copies of alumni magazines and the student newspaper—the Technique—filled the space between us. “You probably know what this is about,” he began. Something about the way my legs were itching said I did, but the message hadn’t quite reached my brain. I shook my head lamely. Maybe spending the last few days playing getting-to-know-you games and talking about the evils of binge drinking had made me stupid.

“Heard from Win lately?” Ward asked.

Win. Short for Winston. Short for “bane of my existence and onetime best friend.”

I tossed my head back against the couch. Great. “Mr. Coggans sent you,” I said.

“Answer the question, please,” he replied.

I sighed. I wasn’t eager to jump back into the events I’d been recounting to Win’s parents and mine since I returned without him two weeks ago. I thought once I got to school, I might get a break. Apparently not. “No. Not since I finished the trip—well, sort of finished the trip—with him a couple of weeks ago. We got separated at the end, and I couldn’t find him. So I rode to the coast, got on a bus, and came home. Showed up here for orientation a week after that.”

“Why didn’t you look for him after you reached the coast?” the agent asked.

Besides the fact that he didn’t bother looking for me? I thought. “I figured he’d gone on to his uncle’s in Seattle.” Truth was, I was still pissed at him for not stopping when I got that flat near Concrete, Washington, a dead little town fifty miles from the coast.

“Why didn’t you go to Seattle?”

“Win never told me the address. Or the phone number. Or even his uncle’s name,” I said.

Ward pressed on. “But I’m sure there were other ways you could have gotten the information—”

“Probably. But I was a little tired of it all by then,” I said.

“Tired of what?” he asked, his voice inching from the friendly tone he’d opened with to something more businesslike.

“Win’s always playing games. I was sick of him. Getting to Seattle would have been too much of a hassle.”

“Doesn’t seem like a guy who’d ridden his bike across the country would have minded. What can it be, an eighty-mile ride?”

“That’s a whole day of riding, and probably more since I’d have been on back roads. We only rode freeways when we had to.”

“Didn’t the bus stop in Seattle before it turned back east?” he asked.

I nodded. “For maybe half an hour.”

He paused, scratched the back of his head. “Why didn’t you call Win’s parents when you split up?”

I shrugged. “I was in the middle of nowhere. And Win had the cell phone. But that was dead by then. Besides, it didn’t seem right that since Win decided to ride on his own, I should be the one to catch hell for it.”

“Huh,” he said finally.

“What’s going on with Win?” I’d been telling myself for the last week that he must have turned up, since his dad had stopped making his daily phone calls. It dawned on me that if the FBI was involved, then that could mean a lot of things ... few of them good for Win ... or me.

Again he ignored my question. “But you could have called them to get the uncle’s address.”

I hesitated. Since middle school I’d avoided conversations with Win’s parents almost as carefully as Win did himself, but I didn’t want to go into all that. “Seattle’s a pretty big place. Why won’t you tell me what’s going on?”

The agent stared at me a little longer; I tried to stare back, was reminded of the stupid contests Win and I used to engage in, and looked away.

Ward began to loosen his tie, as if he knew we might be here awhile. “Do you want to try that again?”

“What?” I asked.

“That story.”

“It’s the truth,” I said, sounding more panicked than I wanted to.

He shook his head. “Nope.”

I was taken aback.

“You’re kidding, right? Why would I lie?” I couldn’t remember the last time someone had accused me of lying.

He glared at me again. I wonder if the feds provide training for intimidating stares at the FBI academy. Or maybe it’s a prerequisite—like running a six-minute mile. His gaze made me so uncomfortable that I began to doubt my own story.

“I told the exact same thing to my folks when I got on the bus to come back,” I said.

“Yeah. I talked with them earlier today.”

He’d talked to my parents? “So then you know I’m telling the truth, right?”

Ward snorted. “Nope. I only know that you lie consistently. This isn’t high school PE—a note from your mommy isn’t going to get you out of climbing the rope.”

“What exactly is ‘this’?” I asked, almost as annoyed by another mama’s-boy reference as I was freaked by the appearance of an FBI agent asking me questions about something I’d been trying pretty damn hard to forget.

This,” Ward said, “is an investigation.”

“Of what?” I asked. “Me?”

Ward was quiet for a beat. The fans droned heavily behind me. On TV the announcer shouted, “Yahtzee!” as a player smacked the ball out of the park on the highlight reel.

“Win has no uncle in Seattle,” he said carefully, gauging my reaction. “And he hasn’t contacted his parents in over a month. You’re the last person to have seen him.”


“I think you’d better start from the beginning, Chris,” Abe Ward said as he settled back into the sofa, one arm tossed casually across the back so I had a better view of the weapon sleeping quietly in its holster.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"This is great realistic mystery. Jennifer Bradbury tells a totally believable, totally engrossing story. You will keep the pages turning." — Chris Crutcher, the Margaret A. Edwards Award-winning author of Deadline and Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

* "Bradbury's keen details about the bike trip, the places, the weather, the food, the camping, and the locals add wonderful texture to this exciting first nove."—Booklist, starred review

* "Bradbury's keen details about the bike trip, the places, the weather, the food, the camping, and the locals add wonderful texture to this exciting first nove."—Booklist, starred review

"Endowing both boys with a heavy dose of idealism, responsibility and self-preservation, Bradbury makes their growth feel genuine and even profound."—Publishers Weekly

"The journey [is] the kind of glorious, frustrating, life-changing experience that the boys had hoped and that readers will yearningly imagine....Readers will come for the thrill of the open road and stay for an authentic picture of a friendship between two young men about to tackle adulthood in very different ways."—The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Shift 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Clark_KentRK More than 1 year ago
One trip, two lifelong childhood friends, the open road and their bikes...what could go wrong? Well apparently a lot. Chris and his best friend, Winston, decided that during their last summer together and as newly graduated seniors, they would use the opportunity to bike across the country from West Virginia to California. The reader doesn't start with the adventures that Win and Chris share on their incredible and crazy journey, the reader finds Chris during his first weeks of college, a week after the end of their cross country trip, under investigation. The reason for the investigation, the disappearance of Win. Shift is the first novel written by Jennifer Bradbury, a high-school English instructor from Burlington, Washington. Bradbury is able to take the characters of Chris and Win and place them with emotions, characteristics and even in depth personalities. Win is given a personality that makes a reader at times really enjoy him and what he says, but Bradbury is able to make the reader feel negatively toward him, with out losing the essence of who he truly is. Bradbury is able to travel through different time periods, such as from the past to the present, without losing the readers focus or understanding; I found that it was easy to stay connected with the plot without losing my place. Bradbury skips from the present to the past to show the events leading toward the current present; the adventures of the cross country trip to the first few weeks at college. She is able to weave into the story clues about the where abouts and possibilities that Win could be found at, using the past events of the trip along with current evidence found in the present: that only his best friend Chris can find. Throughout the novel Winston's dad appears questioning Chris and telling him about Winston's troubles and problems. The whole novel is centered around finding Win. The crux I believe is what Winston's dad tells Chris at a meeting at the dean's office at the university, "He enjoys his own antics but other people tend to tire pretty quickly of his little tricks." This is what holds the story together, because without this information Chris and the audience would begin to believe that Chris is dead and forgotten. But since this relates to a clue from Win himself sent to Chris mentioning of the word trick, he is able to piece the two together and understand who sent it to him. Over all I would truly recommend this work of literature to any young adult, simply because it is about young adults with the many troubles and pleasures that come with becoming one. It is also a great book for anyone who enjoys mysteries or puzzles, because of the unknown where abouts of Win and the clues he sends along the way to guide Chris to him. Other works I would recommend to be read along with this novel would be the Alex Rider Series.
AkiraJR More than 1 year ago
When i first got the book i was so excited because i had been counting down the days until it arrived. I loved it! I really liked how the author went back and forth between present day, in the story, and back when he was on the bike trip. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody!
Ilianna More than 1 year ago
Shift by Jennifer Bradbury Chris and Winston never imaged that riding their bikes from West Virginia to Seattle would end their friendship. According to Win, he has an uncle that lives in Seattle. And have plans on going to college after their summer bike road trip. Chris and Win have been best friends since third grade. Win's parents are very strict, indomitable, and rich. Chris's parents, on the other hand, are compassionate, loving people who think of Win as their other son. On their trip Win falls in love with a ranch they camped at and the people that owned it. Winston behaves oddly during their trip. At the end of the road trip Chris returns home without Win. On their way to Seattle Chris discovers twenty-thousand dollars in Win's bag but decides not to say anything to Win about it. Chris becomes very suspicious of Win's attitude. He can't imagine why Win didn't tell him about the money. Why would he need that much money and not tell his best friend about it? He was confused. When Chris returns back home without Win, he's life goes ballistic. Back at home the FBI agent Ward, constantly asks Chris about Win. Chris gets annoyed at Win's father because he believes that Chris is somehow responsible for Win's disappearance. Later Win receives a postcard from a suspicious name "Tricksey", when he realizes who Tricksey was he packed his bags and heads out to look for Win. While Win and Chris were in Montana they saw a coyote tearing out its prey's intestines; they took pictures of it. When they wanted to get a little closer the coyote saw them and then it started chasing them. The coyote eventually got tired of chasing Win and Chris and stopped. As the boys continued Chris got a flat tire, but Win didn't even bother to stop, and left Chris alone in Montana. Win ditched his long-time best friend and did not return for Chris. The author is trying to say that when people are friends for a long time and if one is comfortable with the friendship that doesn't mean the other person is comfortable also. In fact the other may be miserable. And whatever makes your best friend happy you should let them do that and not let you feel trapped with you. You sometimes need to let a friend go no matter how devastating it is for you. When Chris returned home he didn't feel like finding Win and asking him why he disappeared. He was angry. But it turned out that that disappearance was the best for their friendship. The author did an okay job. I wasn't too pleased with the book because I was expecting more excitement and more adventure. I would mostly recommend this book to teenagers. I think that it did have a good message. I didn't like some of the language in the book so therefore I give this book three stars. The author did a wonderful job describing the boy's adventure. If you like books about friendships and some adventure then this is a great book for you.
miguelquintero More than 1 year ago
I JUST finished reading this book 1 minute ago! Shift is such a great story! It was so fun to read and the characters grow so much on you! You cant put it down because you REALLY wanna know what happens next! From start to finish, it was GREAT! Everyone should read this epic adventure ;)
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Chris and his friend, Win(ston), decide to embark on a cross country bike trip after they graduate high school. Their plan is to ride from their home in West Virginia to Seattle, Washington, where Win has an uncle. But in the end, only Chris returns to West Virginia a few weeks before he is to start at Georgia Tech.

Chris and Win have known each other since third grade and have been best friends since sixth grade. With the last names of Collins and Coggans, they were destined to know each other. But the bike trip might have been too much for the friendship to bear. Winston comes from a wealthy family where his father either ignores him or degrades him, and his mother is always off on some vacation or other. Win's father has pulled strings to ensure that Win has gained admittance to Dartmouth, the Alma Mater of generations of Coggans. Chris comes from a loving home where his father tells him to set a date to start the bike trip or he will forever regret not having done it.

During the trip, Chris notices aspects of Win that he never saw before. Most surprising is the almost twenty-thousand dollars that Win has buried inside his bike panniers. Win never tells Chris about the money, and so, respecting Win's privacy, Chris never asks. But this is only one of many instances on the journey that Chris realizes Win is hiding more than he lets on.

Upon return to normal life, Chris is visited by an FBI agent employed by Win's father. Threats are made by Mr. Coggans to find out where his son has gone. Everyone believes that Chris holds the answer to locating Win. But Chris is torn between what is expected of him and what he knows to be the right thing to do.

Ms. Bradbury is one of the bright new authors in the Class of 2008. Her story is fresh and keeps the reader curious until the end. The story is told in alternating chapters: one in the present and one during the bike journey. The alternating chapters keep the story flowing and the tension building until the revelation of what Chris finds out about Win.
CRBurke1113 More than 1 year ago
We read this as a family with our 9 year old. The story was very engaging. It reminded me of how much people can change after high school and the importance of parent-child relationships.
Silverwolf14 More than 1 year ago
This novel is a strange story of a independence and loyalty to your best friend. 'Shift' is a book that tells the story of Chris Collins as he is in the present but it has him recolecting (is that a word) his cross-country bike trip with his best friend, Win. Win goes missing and Chris has to think back at all his good times on the trip and where his best friend might be. The book focuses on fiding yourself and knowing when to let go of something. A new beginning, so to speak. 'Shift' is a great novel for bike riders and teenagers because it has adventure and a more personal connection to its' characters than just a pure action book. It is a terrific traveling tale.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Amazing! Made me feel like I was on the trip with them! LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Chris didn't know what to expect when he and his best friend Win began their cross-country bike ride the summer after high school graduation. Chris had made all of the needed preparations from packing food to making sure his bicycle was balanced. He made sure Win did the same. And most of the trip was everything Chris hoped it would be. More, even, than he could imagine when they started the trip in West Virginia. Until everything started to go wrong. Fast forward to the weeks after the trip: After they part ways, Chris finishes the ride in Seattle and hops a bus back home with a week to spare before starting college. Chris assumes that Win does the same thing. Chris is wrong. Now Chris is being hounded by Win's influential and severely upset father, federal agents and who knows who else. Everyone wants to find Win and bring him home. Chris, in particular, wants answers. He is owed answers. But before Chris can even try to find Win he'll have to rethink everything about their fateful trip in Shift (2008) by Jennifer Bradbury. Shift is Bradbury's first novel. Shift is a deceptively simple mystery. With chapters alternating between Chris' current situation getting settled at college and flashbacks to his disastrous road trip with Win, Bradbury presents a surprisingly faceted image of both boys. Expertly handled exposition highlights the changes in both Win and Chris over the course of the trip. Although the story very much focuses on Chris, and to a lesser extent Win, Bradbury still manages to add some diversity to the cast and also present effective, well-realized female characters in secondary roles. The clues Chris follows as he tries to figure out the truth behind Win's disappearance often feel obvious. However they all still build to a satisfying conclusion as Chris works toward the truth. This character-driven story is as much a tense mystery as it is a coming of age story. Highly recommended. Possible Pairings: The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, Paper Towns by John Green, Stranger in the Forest by Eric Hansen, Racing California by Janet Nichols Lynch, The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Rose. Age: Looks 13 most of the time. Looks: Usually as a gray wolf pup, but as a human, has long light brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, short and skinny. Others: Has no boyfriend yet but is available. Usually has a forest green cloak on that is very warm. For anything else, just or you will find out leter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: if youre blind and ya know it read the title... gender:&female. Shapeshift list: any animal. Note that humans are NOT animals so if you say that she wull turn into a dragon and youknowwhat. Personal: can get feisty but is mostly hyper. Looks: in her usual snow leopard form... well look it up on the internet! She has blue eyes. Ask for any other stuff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name- unknown, but he calls himself "Claws.." <p> Age- Looks to be about 25. <p> Looks- Has short, blonde hair, blue eyes, tan skin,pointed ears, has a scar around his left eye, looks strong enough to kill someone, has muscular legs. <p> Personality- A bit calm. <p> Gender- male <p> Friends- None. <p> Weapons- His claws. <p> Likes- meat. <p> Dislikes- People who hate him and clowns <p> I think that's it.......................................................
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enticing and keeps you going till the very end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've ever read. I really like the author's writing style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book from beginning to end, it keeps you going you don't know what's going to happen next!
Michael-Van-Riessen More than 1 year ago
The book Shift is about Chris Collins, the main character, and Winston Coggans, another important character, taking a trek from their homes in West Virginia across the country to the Pacific Ocean on their bikes. However, at the same time in the book, the story tells of how Chris has to search for Winston, who has all of the sudden disappeared. This is a great story of how two best friends become separated in their friendship on a bike trek. I really liked how the story switched from Chris' present and how he tries to track down Winston to when Chris and Win were still making their trek across the United States. I disliked how although Chris and Winston were friends, they don't treat each other with the type of respect best friends should. This is a very well written book and I definitely recommend it to people of all ages.
SpartanReading More than 1 year ago
I gave this book 5 stars because it was a real attention grabber, it was so interesting and you were basically glued to the book. This book is about two friends who went on a cross-country biking trip, but in the process of coming back, one of them went missing. The other one had to think back on all of the memories to find out where he might be, since the FBI thinks that he had did it. The book is all about letting go and finding. I would recommend this to an older group of teenagers, since it's kind of hard to understand. Like at first I didn't understand a thing they were talking about, because of everything that was going on. It's kind of fast paced and exciting. Not really suitable for little kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good i couldnt put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was often times predictable and boring. It was okay while it lasted, but to be honest, I didn't even finish it. Not worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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David14 More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best mystery books I've read two best friends Chris and Win going on a 2 month bike trip! Their parents disagree but in the end cannot refuse their last hint of adventure before they must start their adult life. During this trip Win ditches Chris and Chris takes bus back home angered by his friends betrayal. Win's dad for the first time actually worried about Win calls an FBI agent to see if Chris really doesn't know the whereabouts of his son. Now Chris is trying to live the "college" life but cannot due to the FBI agent Ward who continues to question him. This is one of the first stories I've read where the story transitions from the present to the past every chapter back and forth. For instance in Shift the story transitions from the bike ride with Win to college. This is an amazing book and I recommend it to anyone who loves a mystery.