Summary: Jeremy is a teen with a good head on his shoulders, but if there is one thing he doesn’t understand it is girls and their moods. When Laure starts at his school, Jeremy is drawn to her, first by humiliation and then by her mysterious nature. Laure’s hiding what she considers to be a shameful secret, and Jeremy becomes determined to figure it out. Their friendship helps Laure see life in a new light, but an unintended side effect is the alienation of Jeremy’s best friend Tanya. If Jeremy doesn’t learn to understand girls and their moods fast, he’s going to lose her.
Number of Pages: 123
Age Range: 14-16
Review: Besides being a bit confused by the title since bicycles only served to be a comparison to the complicated nature of women, I thought this was a solid read. Laure is adjusting to major life changes when she starts a new school, and she’s doing her best to keep her past from catching up with her. But her fear of the past is so overwhelming that it gives others control of Laure and puts her in a compromising situation.
Jeremy, with his logical focus on bicycle maintenance, ends up being a good influence on Laure. He helps her face her demons, and in the process learns that girls may be more complicated than bikes, but they are certainly worth the trouble. For a teenage boy, Jeremy has a remarkably well-balanced grip on reality and knows what is really important in life. He was definitely my favourite character and I loved reading about his large family.
Once again, Michèle Marineau digs deep to explore the questions of life, but this time through teen angst over relationships and reputations. Laure takes time to become a likable character but she does eventually, helping Jeremy realise what is right in front of him.
I’d recommend this book for younger to mid teens.
“‘For everyone concerned,’ he’d said with a straight face. Better for everyone concerned. Laure felt like she’d been punched in the stomach. Not for me! she wanted to scream. Not for me. For you, for you and your family, maybe, for your own well-being. But don’t tell me this is better for me. Don’t ever tell me that.” – Laure from Lean Mean Machines by Michèle Marineau, pages 24-25
“She hates herself for being so weak and passive, and she curses her lack of resolve. But she endures Christian, despite her revulsion.
She just can’t stand him, any part of him. His odor turns her stomach, his voice grates on her ears, his hands and his lips repel her. The minute he touches her, she can feel herself stiffen. She would like to snap shut like a shell, plunge inside herself, dissolve from the outside in until there’s nothing left of her on the surface, nothing for Christian to hold onto.” – Laure from Lean Mean Machines by Michèle Marineau, pages 42-43
“At the moment, I felt a great, a huge, an extraordinary affection for bikes. Unlike girls, bikes don’t get moods.” – Jeremy from Lean Mean Machines by Michèle Marineau, page 51
“After all, I said to myself, a mystery is like a mechanical problem with a bike. No matter how complex the problem, there’s always some solution. You have to examine the problem, there’s always some solution. You have to examine the parts separately, understand each one’s role and the relationships between them. Each part has to be in its place. Together the different parts form a perfectly fitted, smooth-running whole. Together they make sense. The solution may not always be obvious, but there always is a solution if you take a patient and logical enough approach. Always.” – Jeremy from Lean Mean Machines by Michèle Marineau, page 64
“There have been times when I wanted to trade families. Or wished my parents were more ambitious, wealthier. Less ordinary. Or that our life was more exciting.
That evening though, I felt a rush of love for my ordinary parents and our unexciting life. An honest life full of love is not that bad after all.” – Jeremy from Lean Mean Machines by Michèle Marineau, page 83
“‘I know it won’t be easy. When I start thinking about all the potential problems, I have a tendency to panic. Then I tell myself things can’t get worse than they are right now. They can’t get worse than everything we’ve been through these past few months. I also tell myself that we are rich, Laure, so rich when you think about it. We’re alive, we’re healthy. We’re together, we love each other, weh ave all kinds of talent and energy. And we’re not alone.'” – Laure’s mother from Lean Mean Machines by Michèle Marineau, pages 119-120