Tuesday, March 18, 2014

“Bike Thief”

by Rita Feutl
ISBN No. 978-1-4598-0569-9

In 1948 it was a movie called “The Bicycle Thief”, which is memorable for being both an affecting neo-realist examination of Italy’s working class and - according to Mia Farrow - the only movie that ever made Woody Allen cry. This year it’s a book simply called “Bike Thief” and it updates, westernizes, and youthenizes the concept of bike theft for the internet, foster home, and fixed-gear bicycle age. When stalwart Nick visits the local pawn shop to replace the TV his sister broke (hopefully before their foster parents find out) he’s coerced by the store owner to steal bikes to pay for the TV. What happens next is the moral quandary of every tween trying to do the right thing – but with some surprisingly evocative, millennial and grown-up touches. When the pawn shop owner asks after Nick’s younger sister his how-is-she “smells of sex – or drugs.” Bike chains in a chop shop “spill from an old box like a mess of snakes trying to escape.” When Nick doubles a girl he likes home on his bike he thinks: “Good thing she’s facing forward. She can’t see the grin on my face.” Eventually the clever touches – which both adults and kids can appreciate – elevate “Bike Thief” above the genre of youth lit.