About the Book

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?

Behind the Book

I’d always wanted to do something with all the weird little anecdotes from my bicycle touring adventures. Those events and scenes sort of rattled away in my mind for years before I found characters and a conflict to frame them—and then those characters and conflict took over, bringing a theme along with them.

I wrote the first draft of the novel while on a teaching exchange in India where I had a lighter teaching schedule than I was used to. If I wasn’t asked to substitute in another classroom, I was only responsible for two forty-minute classes. Afterward, I’d head down to the library in the basement and write on one of the few computers in the school. Chris and Win’s story materialized quickly.

By the time we returned home, I’d completed a third rewrite. Shortly after, my daughter was born, and I happily put my writing aspirations on hold for a while. A few months later, when my daughter was napping more regularly (and we were sleeping better), I took another look at the manuscript and started querying agents once again. Eventually, I landed with Robin Rue at Writers House, who sold the book three days after agreeing to rep me. Since then its been a fabulous, challenging, fun ride.

Awards and Honors

  • 2009 ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • 2009 ALA Quick Picks Nominee
  • Booklist Best Sports Books 2008
  • Booklist Best Crime Fiction 2008
  • YALSA Wrestlemania Reading Challenge Finals Book
  • Florida Teens Read Award Nominees 2009-2010
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award Nominee 2010 (9-12)
  • Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Nominee 2009-2010 High School
  • Missouri Gateway Nominee 2010-2011
  • Rhode Island Teen Nominee 2010
  • Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Nominee 2010-2011 – Young Adult
  • Texas Tayshas High School Reading List 2009-2010
  • Utah Beehive Young Adult Nominee 2009-2010
  • Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Nominee 2009-2010
  • Washington, D.C. Capitol Choices Final List
  • South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee, 2010-2011
  • Virginia Readers Choice, 2010-2011
  • Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Nominee, 2011
  • Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee 2011-2012
  • Iowa High School Book Award Nominee 2011-2012


“Chris is a well-drawn character, and readers will care about him. Win is naturally a puzzle-angry, and fighting to become himself. The story moves quickly and will easily draw in readers.”
–School Library Journal

“While the boys meet interesting people and discover fascinating and gorgeously lonesome parts of the country, they also evolve in ways neither thought possible. Endowing both boys with a heavy dose of idealism, responsibility and self-preservation, Bradbury makes their growth feel genuine and even profound. Chris and readers are equally in the dark about Win’s disappearance, making the mystery that much more exciting.”
–Publisher’s Weekly

“A smart and moving coming-of-age story about two best friends . . . fresh, absorbing, and compelling.”
–Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“The narrative alternates between past and present, drawing readers into this friendship-powered travel mystery that introduces two young men claiming very different roads to independence.”
–Horn Book

“This well-written book covers many themes including rites of passage and father-son relationships. The experiences of a cross-country bike trip are credible because of the author’s first-hand knowledge. Recommended.”
–Library Media Connection

“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 novel…”
–Booklist, Starred Review

“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

“This lovely story for teen readers is a tale of friendship, self-discovery, and coming-of-age explored through a cross-country bike trip and the mysterious disappearance of a friend. Young readers will lose themselves in its breathless, brilliantly woven plot.”
–Christian Science Monitor