I can sum up Chasing AllieCat in three words: exciting, mysterious, and completely believable. Rebecca Fjelland Davis has taken a dull summer out in the boons and made it a life-changing experience for three teenagers.
Sadie is a fantastic narrator. The entire story is told from her first-person perspective, and we, the readers, do not lack for any visual descriptions or her opinions on what his happening - we are always in the know, although we don't know anything until Sadie does. One of the chief reasons that I like Sadie so much is because she is a laid back, take-people-as-they-are person. That doesn't mean that she doesn't have her opinions on people or doesn't gripe when she has to deal with them, but she accepts it, moves on and works past it. I particularly like that she always was offended and stuck up for Allie when she thought Joe was making very un-PC remarks about her, particularly since it is evident from the get-go that she is attracted to him! Like I said, she is easy going on people, but she sticks to her own opinions and is loyal to the people who have shown trust in her. I like a character who isn't wishy-washy or a fair-weathered friend.
Allie is a prickly type of friendly from the get-go. She is uncompromising and tough, but not necessarily a bully, although sometimes she can come off that way, particularly with Joe. She genuinely wants to see people be their best and live the best way possible, which can cause her to be abrasive to people who are not up to code. Joe, on the other, hand, is a nice guy, although not my type of guy. In an odd twist, he is the nephew of Allie's aunt-by-marriage. Like Sadie, he has been sent to live with relatives for the summer. In his case, it's to escape the aftermath of a personal tragedy. While I never bought the 'tough-guy' persona that he is originally present to us with, I did appreciate that his overall kindness and that he was working though some demons of his own. This is a summer of growth and healing for him, and riding through the fear helps him as much as it does Sadie and Allie.
All three characters have an absolute passion for mountain biking and all three also shoulder tough burdens. You get the idea from the beginning that Allie in particular comes from a sad and troubled background, but I had no clue just how bad it was until the end when the cause for her disappearance is revealed. Davis wrote an exceptional plot in this book, and specifically with Allie's story, I think her skill really shines. Throughout the book, we are given just enough clues and incidents that lead us to believe that certain possibilities were afoot, but you aren't sure which one it is until the end. She also has a remarkable balance between this being a book about friendship and coming-of-age, and also being about Very Serious Subject Matter. As the latter is never revealed until towards the end, I won't share that with you, but it's a tough thing to bear, and Davis uses very clear language when it's discussed, leaving us in no doubt of the reasons behind Allie's disappearance.
I really enjoyed this book. Although I had a little trouble getting into it at the very beginning, that quickly passed, and then I didn't want to put it down. Davis' characters are distinct, her writing simple, vivid and descriptive, the plot fast-paced, and the mystery of Allie keeps your attention. There is one, tiny aspect of the plot that I struggled with, but I will say it doesn't hinder my appreciation of the book or my recommendation of it. Chasing AllieCat is a solid read, a great book about three unlikely comrades who share a summer that teaches them about what living is, and that fear is something to be conquered, not accepted.