Saturday, September 25, 2010
Crunch by Leslie Connor
Leslie Connor's Crunch follows this formula perfectly. Dewey and his four siblings live a humble, yet idyllic, life. His father is a trucker and his mother stays at home with the kids. To supplement the family income, his father started The Bike Barn, a bicycle repair facility they run out of their back barn, for those times when trucking runs are few and far between. Once a year, though, Dewey's mother accompanies his father on a trucking run. However, while making a run up the east coast, the country comes to a standstill when the gas pumps dry up. Bikes, the next best vehicle during a crisis of this sort, become even more important. And, when bikes are used more than normal, bikes break down at a higher rate. The gas "crunch" jettisons the family bike business into the stratosphere. Dewey, his brother, and a new acquaintance, Robert, must keep up with the demand for their repair skills in the face of skyrocketing bike part prices, lonely younger siblings, a grouchy neighbor, a controlling older sister, and mysteriously disappearing bike parts.
Connor has written another fabulous young adult novel. Her first, Waiting for Normal, followed the same formula; it took a single parent away through mental illness and put a young, female protagonist in the driver's seat. Both novels also inject a healthy dose of social commentary, although Crunch is a bit more heavy-handed. Connor tempts readers to think about the repercussions of our dependence on gasoline and how society should respond in the face of such a crisis. I look forward to Connor's next offering. I honestly did not want Crunch to end. There's no higher complement for an author.