Monday, December 2, 2013

‘Crunch’ by Leslie Connor

In Crunch by Leslie Connor (Katherine Tegan Books, 2010) a family’s bicycle repair business is the only thing keeping people on the road when gas supplies dry up.

A long-distance truck driver and his wife are stranded several hundred miles from home when gasoline supplies abruptly disappear. Fourteen-year-old Dewey and his siblings must manage the “Marriss Bike Barn” while meeting family responsibilities.

With no cars on the highway, cyclists take to the lanes. Suddenly, everyone is turning to the Marrisses for much-needed bicycle repairs.

Crunch presents a plausible alternative to auto and fuel dependence while accurately depicting challenges that accompany reduced access to long-distance travel. As a bicycle commuter and rider of public transit, the subject appealed to me.

The Marriss siblings must travel by bicycle to get supplies and keep appointments. Food purchases are influenced by the uncertainty of future deliveries. And, to further complicate matters, some bicycle parts go missing from the shop.

In spite of the challenges faced by the protagonists, I thought the story was inspiring. I believe that reduced auto dependence will make our society much healthier (although I hope its catalyst will not require a fuel shortage like that depicted here).

I appreciate Crunch for exploring, through fiction, the implications of such a shift and, hopefully, paving the way for its adoption on a larger scale.

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