If there is anything to learn from Bike Thief it is that you must be careful of the friends you keep and that one bad decision can lead to a snowball effect and serious trouble. Nick and his sister Katie live in foster care and because of past transgressions they are determined to be n their best behavior for fear that they will be split up, something they don't want to see happen at all. When Katie breaks a tv set in the house, afraid of what will happen when his foster parents find out Nick talks to his friend who tells him that he knows how to make easy money. Before long Nick finds himself deeper and deeper in debt and is forced to pull more jobs together with a group of "runts" (younger kids) who don't quite understand what they are getting into.
Quite by coincidence the one girl he meets that he likes and that likes him is the very person whose bike he stole and he must then find a way to return her bike since it is her only means of getting around (this is no Romeo and Juliet story). The guys running the bike chop shop are mean and don't think twice about roughing up. Nick wonders if bikes are all they are into and his suspicions turn out to be valid when the head honchos reveal that they were just training the kids with small jobs before they could be trusted with big jobs.
I am a bike fanatic myself so I enjoyed reading a book where the story revolved around bikes of all sizes. It was a little strange how we saw absolutely nothing about Nick's life in school (classes, homework etc.) until the very end of the book and I felt that we could have at least seen some scenes between him and his foster parents throughout the book as I felt that surely they would have suspected that something was up.
Books with a preachy tone are not always useful for teens as most of them can see right through it and I was glad that this book was not one of those. In this book we see that Nick's choices are bad and we get a sense of his unease with certain situations. He can tell right from wrong but he feels that he must make certain decisions in order to get the money he needs. In the end he can reflect and think about his choices and ways in which he could have done things differently. Overall, this was a good fast read and I recommend Bike Thief for ages 11-16.
You can read this and other reviews at my personal site here.
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