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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Summer on the Short Bus Bethany Crandell *Review*

Hello all! As usual, life has been busy :/, but at least I have this review post ready before going to TFC homecoming! Enjoy :D

I wanted to read SotSB ever since I first heard about it. Hilarity with a healthy dose of snark and realism? Count me in. So when I won Bethany Crandell's debut novel in Eric Devine's PRESS PLAY giveaway (thanks again!! *^_^*), I was nothing short of stoked.

As instincts were spot on—Summer on the Short Bus is a brilliant read that captivated me from page one. I lost track of time within seconds, and proceeded to blissfully ignore my surroundings (I was traveling back to Alabama from West Virginia via bus) for the next 2-3 hours. You might be thinking, 'Wow, it must be really short!' Yeah, it was a little short. But I didn't feel gypped at all; in fact, I think the shortness suits the novel perfectly and acts as a selling point (perhaps for those reluctant readers? :-).

If I was paying attention, I might've noticed having garnered a slew of confused backward glances because, let's face it, this book is laugh-out-loud hilarious...and I laughed A LOT. (Having a bad day? Read a chapter of SotSB.) First off, the characters' personalities and quirks clash—and mesh—perfectly. Cricket's roomie? HAHAHA....still laughing, guys. I won't spoil the surprise, but I assure you—funniest roommate pairing ever.

I love this book.

I especially love Cricket. If you've been to camp, you know that it's is a life-changing experience...and though humor does make up a large part of the Short Bus experience, Crandell doesn't skimp on realistic, relateable character development.

Ok, I'll admit it. I thought Cricket was going to be one of those characters like the protagonist of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair, or Before I Fall: shallow and obnoxious. Mind you, the protagonists of both came around and I empathized with them in the end (Before I Fall is one of my favorite YA novels)...but with Cricket, it was different. I related to her and her predicament(s) from page one, and watching her grow and struggle was a heartwarming experience the entire way.

So if you think you aren't going to like Cricket...I'm going to burst your bubble and argue that you're mistaken.*

You see, Cricket's highly entertaining internal dialogue and melodramatic/sarcastic perspective will woo you into liking her. You will sympathize with her. You will laugh with (sometimes at) her. Plus, the other characters (particularly the roomie) keep her drama llama flair in line, so you needn't fear growing weary of the ugly in Cricket's ugly duckling to swan attitude arc.

Which brings me to yet another reason why I love this book:

Summer on the Short Bus is a thought-provoking invitation to a conversation about the prejudices we bring with our perspective, the way we look at and respond to those who are different from—yet ultimately the same as—us. If we're willing to get to know people for who they are rather than judging them from a distance because of what they look like...we may just fall in love with who they are, recognize their potential, and desire to help them bloom.

Bottom line: Read this book! It's a short—and sweet :3—read that'll leave you wanting more. 

Embrace your inner Efron.

Final verdict: 

*Of course there are going to be people who don't like Cricket, and who find her “transformation” a bit less than transformative. Still, can I put it out there that Bethany Crandell's just being honest?

I read one review in which the reviewer was upset about said 'transformative lack' because Cricket still viewed one of her campers as fat (said in less nice terms). I mean, what was she expecting?! That's realistic—a step away from a former view, rather than an eradication of it.

Plus, Cricket's thoughts are unfiltered. Guys, I work at a daycare, sometimes with people who don't seem to be suited for work with children *AHEM* and sometimes, my unfiltered thoughts are UGLY. You can't tell me you've never had an unkind thought about someone you cared for in your life. (And if you do, you're lying.)

My point: These are Cricket's unfiltered thoughts! This is not Tahereh Mafi's stream of consciousness let-me-take-that-horrible-thought-back-via-strikethrough text.

About the Author
I wish I had some mysterious secret to reveal about myself in hopes that you'd find me interesting...but I don't.  When it comes to me, what you see is what you get. And what you get is an irreverent, sarcastic and emotional girl who writes stories about characters with these same traits.

I live in San Diego with my husband, two kiddos, and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. I'm slightly obsessed with John Hughes and the wonderful collection of films he left behind, and I'm confident that Jake Ryan will be showing up on my doorstep any day now...

I firmly believe that prayer solves problems, and that laughter is the best medicine. Along with avocados. Avocados make the world a better place.

I'm represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Agency.

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