Full Cycle by Christopher Blunt
Eleven-year-old Alex Peterson may be the least-athletic boy at his school, yet he dreams of accomplishing something “not a whole lot of other people in the world have ever done:” a 200-mile, single-day bicycle ride from Seattle to Portland. Alex discovers that if he’s to reach even the starting line, he must overcome more than his physical disability. He must also find a way to revive his father’s own long-dormant dreams, and convince his dad to join forces with him, before they can achieve together what neither would on his own.
Full Cycle follows the life of Alex, an older elementary-age boy, and his family over the course of a year. The story is told from Alex’s perspective as well as his father, Rob’s. It was interesting to see both the father and son change, struggle, and grow throughout the novel. Faith is a part of the story, but the novel is more about discovering yourself, reaching your goals, digging deep within yourself, and the importance of teamwork.
Years before we meet this family, Alex suffered a devastating injury that left him with a noticeable limp. This physical difference makes it nearly impossible for him to participate in sports and makes him a prime target of the school bullies.
When Alex learns about a 200-mile bicycle ride from Seattle to Portland, he becomes fascinated with the event and the sport. He dreams of being part of a community of riders and the freedom of biking. When he discovers that his father had ridden in the event, Alex can’t imagine why his dad would have ever given up such an amazing sport.
There were several aspects in this book that I particularly enjoyed—from Alex’s love of music to his brother’s baseball scenes, to the strong friendships, and the encouraging family relationships. Competitive biking was brought to life through the author’s fantastic descriptions. My muscles ached, just reading about it! I also appreciated that the bullying issue reflected real life and wasn’t tied up in a neat little bow at the end of the story.
There was one particular message that I just loved. We all have gifts that God has blessed us with. We have the responsibility to share them with others, otherwise, we are the ones hiding our light under a bushel. What a wonderful visual! It reminds me of something I read by Catholic speaker/author Chris Stefanick, that God created each of us to be unique, and the unique gifts He gave us can’t be shared by anyone else. How sad if those gifts are hidden and not shared the way God desires. This is a great message for us all, especially kids.
This was a beautiful story about the importance of family. Sometimes I see adults who spend so much time on a sport or hobby that it becomes almost an obsession. All the hours spent on their interests takes away from time with their families, which is sad. So, I greatly appreciated the sacrifices this father made for his family and the way Rob selflessly found a way to include his boys in his passion so he wouldn’t be away from them but instead could share it with them, spend time with them, and create amazing memories. This would be a wonderful book to read as a family.
A note from Reviewer:
As a writer and a mother, I’m always searching for wonderful Christian books for teens of all ages. I truly believe one way we can encourage teens in their faith is through fiction with positive messages, embedded in great stories. There are many fantastic Christian and Catholic teen novels out today but they can be hard to find. I’m excited to share some of these books with you.