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by Jennifer Bradbury
Order:  USA  Can
Atheneum, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

High school graduates, Christopher Collins and Win Coggans have been best friends for over ten years. As close as they've always been, a bicycle trek across country from their homes in West Virginia to Seattle, Washington gives them new insights into their relationship.

Win is a rich, underachieving kook whose dad's idea of parenting is finding fault and threats, which is also how he runs his business. His inattentive mother is happy with a platinum card and airline tickets to anywhere outside of West Virginia. Fortunately, Win has Chris' family for support. He knows what a family should be.

Both Chris and Win are expected to return home from their trip before going away to their separate colleges. Only Chris returns. He goes off to a small college in Georgia which is being paid for with a scholarship and student loans. Win's place at Dartmouth - where his dad pulled strings to get him in - stays vacant.

No one can believe Chris wasn't part of Win's unexplained disappearance. Chris doesn't know where Win is and he has no intention of sharing what happened on their trip with Win's parents or the FBI agent they call in to find Win.

In chapters alternating between past and present, Chris tells the story of their cross country trip as he is questioned by an FBI agent, followed by detectives, and threatened by Win's dad. This fresh mystery and coming-of-age story is the author's debut novel.

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