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Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Simon
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This perceptive, uplifting chronicle shows how much Simon, a creative writing professor at Bryn Mawr College, had to learn from her mentally retarded sister, Beth, about life, love and happiness. Beth lives independently and is in a long-term romantic relationship, but perhaps the most surprising thing about her, certainly to her (mostly) supportive family, is how she spends her days riding buses. Six days a week (the buses don't run on Sundays in her unnamed Pennsylvania city), all day, she cruises around, chatting up her favorite drivers, dispensing advice and holding her ground against those who find her a nuisance. Rachel joined Beth on her rides for a year, a few days every two weeks, in an attempt to mend their distanced relationship and gain some insight into Beth's daily life. She wound up learning a great deal about herself and how narrowly she'd been seeing the world. Beth's community within the transit system is a much stronger network than the one Rachel has in her hectic world, and some of the portraits of drivers and the other people in Beth's life are unforgettable. Rachel juxtaposes this with the story of their childhood, including the dissolution of their parents' marriage and the devastating abandonment by their mother, the effect of which is tied poignantly to the sisters' present relationship. Although she is honest about the frustrations of relating to her stubborn sister, Rachel comes to a new appreciation of her, and it is a pleasure for readers to share in that discovery. Agent, Anne Edelstein. (Aug. 26) Forecast: A blurb from Rosie O'Donnell and an author tour should pique women readers' interest.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-When she received an invitation to her mentally retarded sister's annual Plan of Care review, Simon realized that this was Beth's way of attempting to bring her back into her life. Beth challenged the author to give a year of her life to riding "her" buses with her. Even though Simon didn't know where it would take her, she accepted. During that time, she came to see her sister as a person in her own right with strong feelings about how she wanted to live her life, despite what others thought. Not everyone on the buses, drivers or passengers, liked or even tolerated Beth, and it shamed the author to realize that she sometimes felt the same way about her sibling. As the year passed, Simon came to the realization that "No one can be a good sister all the time. I can only try my best. Just because I am not a saint does not mean that I am a demon." The time together became a year of personal discovery, of acceptance, and of renewed sibling love and closeness. Clear writing and repeated conversations allow readers to hear the voices of both sisters. There is much to mull over, to enjoy, and to savor in this book.
Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 712 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 5 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SERNH6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #78,479 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% Truthfull Sept. 10 2003
I am one of the bus drivers mentioned in the book and can testify to the fact that this book tells the truth about how Beth, the handicaped sister, acts on the bus and how others treat her. It also addresses the fact that people like to belittle her. People do struggle with the rather new fact that the handicaped are more free than in the past. This book addresses that. The book is a great light for all of us to follow. Beth's sister is led to the path of acceptance and love and out of the darkness of misunderstanding. Reading this book will do the same for anyone with an open heart. Highly recomended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Can Relate Feb. 24 2003
By A Customer
My mother mentioned this book to me after hearing the author interviewed on NPR. I thought she'd read it. She's usually read everything. I found it at the library, took it home, and read it in one sitting. I am the oldest of three sisters. The second oldest is MMR and wasn't actually diagnosed until the age of 18. I was four when Mom brought her home from the hospital and I remember wondering if we could send her back.
Working in the transportation industry along with having a sister who is developmentally disabled, I was bound to like this book. My favorite part was Rachel's realization of what self-determination actually means. My family and I struggle with this in regards to my sister and her choices.
I plan to buy this book for my boss as my one year anniversary present to myself. Every bus driver who drives the public and/or the disabled should be required to read it.
This book showed me that as a sibling of a woman with developmental disabilities I am not alone. Thanks Rachel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read......a book worth the money April 24 2003
By A Customer
this book teaches a great deal about self-determination in everyone's lives it is one of the best memoirs I ever read in my 12 years of living ~Rachel touches our hearts with the true words of her life with what she once overcame with her sister Beth~ She teaches and learns herself to be more open in the world around her as I did learn to ~This is one book you should neve regret reading, as I did once but came to enjoy it~ Through her book you reach the sad ends where it makes you cry, the happy ends where it makes you smile and the funny ends where it makes you laugh...this book touched my heart dearly~
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4.0 out of 5 stars Finding Myself May 31 2004
By A Customer
Rachel Simon is a woman in her late 30's to early 40's, living alone. She is unhappy with herself and lifestyle, which consists of writing and teaching all day long in Philadelphia. Beth, her sister with mental retardation, invites Rachel to attend her "Plan of Care" meeting, just after Rachel writes an article about riding the bus with sister, Beth. Just after this scheduled meeting, Beth challenges Rachel to ride the bus with her for a year, but they agree to two times a week for a year. This also meant sleeping over at Beth's apartment on sofa cushions that were set up on the floor. On these bus rides, Rachel learns little "facts of life" lessons from each of the bus drivers that Beth shares her rides with. Rachel is soon to realize and accepts just who her sister and herself truly is. She understands and learns to be content, to work at her faults to make them better, and not to be afraid of what leads her to happiness.
A few things I didn't like about this book was that it was slow at times. The book's progress in dialog could have been hindered by my lack of understanding at the beginning of the book and because it was confusing. Another possibility could be because I was confused by one of the extra books changing of tense from present to past childhood memories. I didn't like the fact that Rachel was shallow at times. Rachel also had a hard time accepting her sister for who she was and was too afraid of everyone else's thoughts.
There are much more positives, than I had dislikes about. This book ends with a happy note and Rachel changes. Rachel learns how to be happy, and camas's to find out that she wasn't the only one with siblings that have mental disabilities. Beth Also changes, she learns that she words can hurt more than she thinks they will. Beth sees how being difficult and stubborn pushes her family away. In conclusion, I liked this book a lot and would recommend it to family with a disabled person.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Honesty Transforms Potentially Clichéd Tale Dec 13 2003
I always try to read a book without any prejudices in regards to the author or the story's nature. But, I have to admit that I was more than a little afraid at first about Riding The Bus With My Sister. I feared that this book would be a stereotypical "feel good" story, where the mentally retarded sister was depicted as a misunderstood noble creature and the "bus rides are a journey of self-discovery" metaphor was abused.
It didn't take me long to realize that my initial fears were unfounded. They went unrealized because Simon chose to infuse her story with honesty, instead of stereotype. Nowhere is this quality better displayed than in her depiction of Beth. Simon makes a point of showing that her sister is stubborn, opinionated, and not liked by everyone. But, she also shows that Beth has qualities that make her distinctive and important. By providing this balanced portrayal, Simon gives her sister a realism that transcends the stereotypical depiction of the mentally disabled.
The only area where Simon veers dangerously close to typecast is in her portrayal of the "wise beyond their station in life" bus drivers. While she does state that not all drivers were like those she highlighted, those that were shown were portrayed as near saints. What rescues this depiction is the honesty behind the stories. Simon takes care to show how each of these drivers obtained their wisdom through their life experiences. As a result, the drivers, and their level of understanding, become believable.
While the metaphor running throughout the book had the potential to be abused, it turned out to be appropriate. Because of the truthful portrayal of her sister and the situations during that year of riding, I came to believe that Simon had discovered, changed, and grown.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming read!
Really great book! It's a realistic portrayal of life with someone who has special needs-loving, funny, heart-wrenching, and at times, annoying. Read more
Published 13 months ago by TC
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done
I read this book after a recommendation and at first, I'll admit, the story line did not interest me. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2004 by WriterChick
2.0 out of 5 stars Of a Boy
Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett (A Penguin Book; $24.95)
ISBN 0-14-014622-9
Set in 1997 Australia after the disappearance of the Metford children (based on the true story of... Read more
Published on May 13 2004 by Fleur Sutherland
5.0 out of 5 stars not a Polyanna, not a cynic
I was sickened that someone who "knows" a real-life character in a book would come on line to publically slam her. Read more
Published on May 4 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound
This is a hugely profound look at the life of children that live within a dysfunctional family. It is easy to read and matter of fact. Read more
Published on March 20 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, I don't believe it
While I will agree that Rachel Simon has a definite flair for prose, I have to say that I honestly could not buy into the notion that this book is a "memoir". Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book club book
This is an amazing book. What appears at first to be a deceptively simple book about the day to day life of a woman with mental retardation turns out to also contain an... Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by Ann Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars A Highly Engrossing, Nontraditional Memoir
Midway through RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER, Rachel Simon's engrossing, nontraditional memoir, Simon makes a startling observation: Almost all of the characters with mental... Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Laughable!
It's really sad how something can be so one-sided. I happen to know who Beth is and have lived in the same town she does, for many years. Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars quick read
It's a quick read but that doesn't mean it's not a good book. I would recommend it to others. She paints a realistic view of life. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2003
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