Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by Rachel Simon


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In the ten years since Rachel Simon first invited the world to board the bus with her and her sister, Cool Beth, readers across the globe have been moved by their story. Now, in an updated edition with fifty pages of new content, Rachel Simon reflects on changes in her life, Beth's life, and the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The highlight is Beth's update, which is in her own words. A new Reader's Guide is also included. Join these two unforgettable sisters on their journey, this time in an even deeper and richer way.

Rachel Simon's sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully. Beth, who has an intellectual disability, spends her days riding the buses in her unnamed Pennsylvania city. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. One day, Beth asks Rachel to accompany her on the buses for an entire year. This wise, funny, deeply affecting true story is the chronicle of that remarkable time. Rachel, a writer and college teacher whose hyperbusy life camouflaged her emotional isolation, had much to learn in her sister's extraordinary world. Full of life lessons from which any reader will profit, Riding the Bus with My Sister is "a heartwarming, life-affirming journey through both the present and the past...[that] might just change your life" (Boston Herald).

Elegantly woven throughout the odyssey are riveting memories of terrifying maternal abandonment, fierce sisterly loyalty, and astonishing forgiveness. Rachel Simon brings to light the almost invisible world of adults with developmental disabilities, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and, without sentimentality, portrays Beth as the endearing, feisty, independent person she is. This heartwarming memoir about the unbreakable bond between two very different sisters takes the reader on an inspirational journey at once unique and universal.

Riding the Bus with My Sister was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Rosie O'Donnell and Andie McDowell, and directed by Anjelica Huston.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455526161
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 03/05/2013
Pages: 385
Sales rank: 129,961
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Rachel Simon is an award-winning author and nationally known public speaker. She is best known for her critically acclaimed, bestselling memoir Riding the Bus with My Sister, which was adapted for a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie of the same name. The book has garnered numerous awards, and is a frequent and much beloved selection of many book clubs, school reading programs, and city-wide reads throughout the country. Simon is also the author of the bestselling novel The Story of Beautiful Girl.

Read an Excerpt

Riding the Bus with My Sister

By Rachel Simon

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Rachel Simon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2616-1



The Journey

"Wake up," my sister Beth says. "We won't make the first bus."

At six a.m. on this winter morning, moonlight still bathes her apartment. She's already dressed: grape-juice-colored T-shirt and pistachio shorts, with a purple Winnie-the-Pooh backpack slung over her shoulder. I struggle awake and into my clothes: black sweater, black leggings. Beth and I, both in our late thirties, were born eleven months apart, but we are different in more than age. She owns a wardrobe of blazingly bright colors and can leap out of bed before dawn. She is also a woman with mental retardation.

I've come here to give Beth her holiday present: I've come to ride the buses.

For six years, she has lived on her own. In her subsidized apartment, a few blocks off the main avenue of a gritty, medium-sized Pennsylvania city, each of her days could easily resemble the next—she has a lot of time, having been laid off from her job busing tables at a fast food restaurant. She has enough money to live on, as a recipient of government assistance for people with disabilities.

But Beth also has something else: ingenuity.

This trait isn't generally ascribed to people who live on the periphery of society's vision. Like indigent seniors, people with untreated mental illness, and the homeless, Beth is someone many people in the mainstream don't think much about, or even see.

Six months after she moved to her fifth-floor apartment, she realized that she was lonely, and had consumed all the episodes of The Price Is Right and All My Children that she could tolerate. So one day she decided to ride the buses. Not just to ride them the way most of us do, and which her aides had trained her to do a few years before. She wasn't interested in something as ordinary as getting from one location to another. She wanted to ride them her way.

It was, Beth recalls, October 18, 1993, when, for reasons she cannot remember, she first picked her monthly bus pass off her coffee table. Then she pressed the first-floor button in her high-rise elevator, walked through the vestibule to the street, hailed a bus on the corner, climbed the steps toward the driver, settled into a seat, and looped through the city from dawn to dusk, trying out one run after another, bus to bus to bus. Soon she was riding a dozen a day, some for five minutes, others for hours, befriending drivers and passengers as she wound through the narrow streets of the city and its wreath of rolling hills. Within weeks she could navigate anywhere within a ten-mile radius, and, by studying the shifting constellations of characters and the schedules posted weekly in the bus terminal, she could calculate who would be at precisely which intersection at any moment of any day. She staked out friendships all over the city, weaving her own traveling community.

Beth's case manager had not suggested this, nor had Regis and Kathie Lee, nor even Beth's boyfriend. This idea was hers alone.

We hurry down Main Street, the moon setting behind the buildings. My guide, whose fuzzy brown hair is still wet from her morning bath, points out the identifying numbers on bus shelters, the scowls of grouchy drivers. She wears no watch, telling time instead by the buses.

We dart into the downtown McDonald's, already, at six-thirty a.m., filled with early risers: clusters of the elderly playing cards, solitary office workers bent over newspapers. Beth orders coffee, though she doesn't drink coffee, palming out the eighty-four cents before the server asks.

Then we bolt into the dawn, making a beeline for a bus shelter. Head craned down the street, Beth giggles as she once did when I took her to a Donny Osmond concert: thrilled, in her element. She clutches her yellow radio and a tangle of key chains—twenty-nine, by her count—Cookie Monster, smiley faces, peace signs, which hold a total of two keys. She does a drumbeat on her laminated bus pass, stickered 000001. Every month she renews it, arriving first in line at the sales window. That sticker is her private coat of arms, proof that she's queen of these routes.

Our first bus draws up to the curb. The driver, Claude, throws open his door as if welcoming us to his house. Beth clomps aboard, arm thrust forward with the coffee. He takes the steaming plastic cup, then thumbs four quarters into her hand. "Our agreement," he explains to me.

Then she spins toward "her" seat—the premier spot on the front sideways bench, catty-corner from his, so she'll be as close to him as possible. I sit beside her; as a suburbaanite who relies on my car and the occasional commuter train, it is my first time on a city transit bus in years. We pull out, past workking-class row houses, a Christian lawn ornament store, a farmers' market, an abandoned candy factory, Asian grocers. Short hair, just bbbbeginning to gray, fans out from underneath Claude's driver's cap. Beth announces that he's forty-two, with a birthday coming soon. He laughs as she offers the exact date and then explains how he likes to spend his birthdays. "She remembers everything," he says.

He asks if she'll change into her flip-flops should this chilly day become as balmy as the forecast predicts. "If iz over forty," she replies, "you know I will." He tells me they "jam" with her radio when the bus is empty. "Real loud," she adds. They recall some trouble with a rider months ago. "She was mean," Beth says indignantly. Claude agrees, and recounts the altercation, in which a passenger vehemently challenged his knowledge of upcoming stops, and which culminated, after the malcontent had finally exited, in Claude's relief that Beth was sharing the ride—he had someone who could sigh along with him.

Moments later, we pass Beth's boyfriend on his bicycle. Also an adult with mental retardation, Jesse has paused at a crosswalk, his maple brown face pointing straight ahead, his blind left eye looking milky in the light, sun glinting off the helmet Beth long ago convinced him to wear. The decade they've been together is more than a fourth of their lives. Claude picks up his intercom mike and calls out, "Hello, Jesse!" Jesse looks over. We twist around in our seats, and his mustached face brightens as we wave.

All day, when we mount Jacob's bus, Estella's, Rodolpho's, one driver after another greets Beth heartily. They tell me she helps out: reminds them where to turn on runs they haven't driven for a while, teaches them the Top Ten songs on the radio, keeps them abreast of schedule and personnel changes, and visits them in the hospital when they're sick. She assists her fellow passengers as well, answering questions about how to reach their destinations, sharing their consternation when the bus halts for double-parked delivery trucks, carrying their third bag of groceries to the curb.

In return, many riders smile hello to her and ask how she's doing; many drivers are hospitable, even affectionate. Jacob asks if she has gotten a new winter coat and if the homeless woman who clashed with her last month has bothered her again. Jack slips her money for soda. Bert squawks out songs, making her laugh at his jaggedy tunes.

Not everyone is nice. Some drivers, I learn, call her "The Pest." When they see Beth at a stop ahead, they cruise right by, gaze glued to the road. Some riders warn them, crying out, "Keep going!" when they spy her waiting on the curb, and, if she climbs on, they bleat in her face, "Shut up! Go home!"

"I don't care," she says and shrugs. When we were growing up, I saw a twinge of anguish on her face whenever kids called her poisonous names, and sometimes the hurt took hours to fade. Now I see that, surrounded by friends, she regains her composure quickly.

That's not all that has changed, I discover. Beth, once a willful child who, like many willful children, felt most secure at home, has grown into an extravagantly social and nonconforming adult, one who creates camaraderie out of bus timetables, refuses to trouble herself when people look askance at her— and, in a buoyant refutation of the notion that mental retardation equals sluggishness, zips about jauntily to her own inner beat. My sister (my sister! I boast to myself) maneuvers through the world with the confidence of a museum curator walking approvingly through her galleries, and, far from bemoaning her otherness, she exults in it.

That afternoon, as I step to the curb and wave goodbye to her through the bus window, I am pierced by a sudden memory, minted only this morning. She was sailing her short, stout body across the street toward McDonald's, and I was scrambling behind. In the predawn moonlight, as she chattered on about our labyrinthine itinerary, well aware that there are few if any other people in this world devoted to a calling of bell cords and exhaust fumes, she spontaneously threw back her head and trumpeted, "I'm diffrent! I'm diffrent!" as if she were hurling a challenge with all her might beyond the limits of the sky.

In the course of my life, cars and trains and jets have whisked me to wherever I wanted to go, and I was going places, I thought; I was racing my way to becoming a Somebody. A Somebody who would live a Big Life. What that meant exactly, I wasn't sure. I just knew that I longed to escape the restrictions of what I saw as a small life: friends and a family and a safe, unobjectionable job that would pay me a passably adequate income. Although this package encompassed just the kind of existence many people I knew were utterly content with, I wanted something more.

Then, in the winter of my thirty-ninth year, I boarded a bus with my sister and discovered that I wanted broader and deeper rewards than those I would find in the Big Life.

At the time, I thought I had my life under control. In addition to having published several books, I was teaching college as well as holding classes for private students, writing free-lance commentary for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and hosting events at a bookstore. I adored everything I did, which is more than many of my acquaintances could say.

But, though I wouldn't confess it to myself, I worked all the time. Seven days a week, from the minute I threw off the covers at seven a.m. until I disintegrated back inside them at one a.m., I leapt like a hare through my schedule: Write article -> Grade student papers -> Interview newspaper subject -> Book author for store signing -> Teach private class -> Take notes for next novel -> Eat -> Crash.

My life, I told myself, bore little resemblance to the lives of workers in corporate America. After all, I made my own schedule and wore comfy leggings and sweaters at my desk, saving the A-line skirts and blazers and lipstick until I drove out to class or the bookstore. To unwind, I took vigorous walks whenever I pleased, keeping my five-foot build lean and fit. But who was I kidding? I was like most of my peers: hyperbusy, hypercritical, hyperventilating.

As a result, I bricked in all the spaces in my week when I might have seen friends, and so it followed that I lost many of them. I lost my opportunity to indulge in almost all leisure activities as well: no movies or plays, and, though I continued to purchase new novels and routinely carted home any intriguing texts I found on the "Take Me" shelf at school, dust settled on the pages like snow, as I had time to read few books beyond those I needed for my work. But perhaps the greatest forfeit was love. I'd had a few awkward dinner dates in the four years since my longtime live-in romance had come to a mutually tearful and reluctant end, and even those strained opportunities had petered out. Alone in my apartment in the Philadelphia suburbs, dining at my desk most nights, I occasionally browsed the personal ads. But then I'd open my datebook, remember that I had no time to meet for coffee, and turn back to my work.

This had not always been me. Until I found myself single, my evenings had been filled with dinner parties and art openings and reading groups and two-hour phone calls with my girlfriends. That is, when my nights weren't already occupied by relaxed conversations on the sofa with my boyfriend, Sam, where we'd go on about books and politics and the seductive lure of the Big Life, our exchanges interrupted only when he'd get up to flip through his voluminous record collection, then set the needle on recordings by, maybe, Miles Davis, or the English folk musician Nick Drake. I don't know when things stopped working for us; I just know that when he asked me to marry him I could not bring myself to make the commitment. Finally, in a blur of grief and regret, convinced I should let him move on with his life, I left. I took only my necessities—computer, desk, and clothes—and camped out in one cheap rented room after another while I tried to make sense of my life, and of what seemed to be a stony heart. It didn't help that for years I had subsisted on Sam's architect's salary, plus my writing jobs, and now, in one of those unnerving coincidences of fate, they suddenly dried up. Those first few months on my own, I was so lonely and broke that my stomach would seize up during the night and I'd wake on my air mattress, clinging to a pillow, and lie awake until morning. During the day, catching my reflection in my computer screen and seeing only failure, I'd feel my face tighten with terror.

Finally, I accepted a job at a bookstore, and, as luck would have it, started publishing at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Then, marveling at the dollar signs sprouting in my check register and discovering that with each newspaper column and wave of bookstore applause I felt myself on my way to the Big Life, I accepted positions teaching as well. I rented an apartment and purchased a bona fide bed, but did not acquire a stereo or TV, as I hadn't missed either enough to replace it. And I worked. I worked until I was so exhausted I fell back asleep easily when I woke during the night. I worked until I forgot I was lonely, until I could not conceive of any other existence.

I hadn't seen Beth in a couple of years. We stayed in touch through letters; once a week I'd scratch out a card, and in return she'd cascade fifteen back. Her letters consisted of two or three multicapitalized sentences sprawling down the page, sprinkled with periods, which she'd then fold into envelopes flamboyantly tattooed with stickers and addressed in fall-off-the-paper print. I relished finding these treats populating my mailbox, whole colonies arriving in a single day. In Magic Marker scrawl, they gossiped about our younger brother (I aM Glad that. Max got a new rED car. when he Came with his kids. good) and older sister (Laura sent Me. a gift Thing for WAlmart), educated me about the latest Top Ten (Do you. like In Sinks I want you back. I do), and revised my knowledge of Jesse's athletic achievements (Jesse did do that big race. WoW). Best of all, they climaxed in a spunky declaration that defied the world's cliché of her as an uncomplicated half-wit, signed as they were, "Cool Beth."

But when I phoned her occasionally, the conversations were clumsy and joyless. She never volunteered information about herself, and when I divulged meager scraps about myself, she made no effort to respond. This combination of guardedness and lack of interest annoyed me, as it did the rest of the family, and like them, I didn't know what to say or ask. After "Hello," our dialogue rapidly disintegrated. Finally, resorting to the I'm-the-older-sister-you're- the-little-sister pattern I knew so well, I'd offer blandly, "Did you hear about the Ninja Turtle mug giveaway at that fast food place?" "How was your talk with Mom?" These queries would allow us to trudge ahead for a few minutes, Beth scattering monosyllabic crumbs in my direction, me telling myself, Okay, it's boring, but it's brief. When we got off the phone, my shoulders would be as rigid as if I'd just marched into combat.

Sometimes she'd call collect. "Iz my birfday. Can you visit?" Or "Iz nice out. Come over." But she lived hours away, in a city I didn't know my way around; I'd already been long out of the house before she'd moved to the area with our father. Endure both geographic confusion and labored communication? "Sorry," I'd say. "I can't."

Excerpted from Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon. Copyright © 2013 Rachel Simon. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


The Journey 3

The Time of Snows and Sorrow 25


Hitting the Road 31

The Professor 35

Fighting 48


The Pilgrim 55

Streetwise 66

Into Out There 77


The Dreamer 93

The Drivers' Room 101

The End of Play 110


Lunch with Jesse 123

Matchmaker 143

The Pursuit of Happiness 147


The Earth Mother 155

Disabilities 164

Goodbye 177


The Optimist 183

Break Shot 196

Gone 199


The Loner 203

Nowhere 220

Be Not Afraid 222

Inside the Tears 227


The Jester 235

Surgery 245

Releasing the Rebel 253


The Hunk 263

The Price of Being Human 273

Come Home, Little Girl 278


The Girlfriend 287

The Eighteenth Hole 293


Swans and Witches 307

Finding the Twin 315

Iz Gonna Be All Right 319


Beyond the Limits of the Sky 323

A Year and a Half Later

The Miracle Maker 337

Ten Years Later

Rachel 343

Beth 358

People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 365

Acknowledgments 379

Get Involved 381

About the Author 382

Reading Group Guide 383

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Riding the Bus with My Sister 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rachel Simmons is a 40 year old woman, who is unhappy with her busy, work driven schedule. Rachel decides to go on bus rides with her mentally challenged sister, Beth. Over a year¿s time of riding the city buses each day, both Rachel and Beth learn life lessons from each others different life styles and personalities. Rachel learns to take a seat and enjoy the ride of life. She also learns what other people think doesn¿t matter and understanding others can make life worthwhile. This book is a great read, which makes a person wonder if they are living life in the fast lane or taking time to smell the roses. I liked how this book teaches so many lessons, about learning how to understand, having patients and dealing with frustrations as well as making you want to live in the present moment not the future or past. I also loved how it is easy for the reader to connect with both Rachel and Beth. Each character is given characteristics that everyone can relate to. For example with Beth it¿s the feeling of being unwanted at times and Rachel not putting what¿s important in life first. This book is slow at times and is the only reason someone might not want to read this novel. Other than that you should read this book, if you need a little inspiration in life, as well as a few tears. Now that you know about this great book, grab a copy and start reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A few months ago I watched the movie Riding The Bus With My Sister and as I was watching. The movie made many connections to my life since I am a person with a learning disability. Although my disability is more milder then Beths, I feel for Beth Simon as she has been let down by her own family and has trouble fitting in to mainstream society. For many years I had trouble fitting into mainsteam society but it was no where as serve as Beth's struggles. Just like Beth my relationship with my sister has not always been at it best. In some ways I share some of the some persoanlity traits as Beth. So in many ways those annoying traits such as being intustive as put a strain on my relationship with my sister. I would recommand this book to anyone especially someone who has a realtive with mental retardation. Rosie O`Donnelle did a outstanding job plaing the role of Beth Simon. What a found most interseting in both the novel and the movie of how Beth's has made a life for herself by riding on the bus and with that has formed friendships with busdrivers as well as passengers.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Dianne C. for Readers Favorite This is a captivating story of sisters that couldn't be more different! They were raised by a somewhat dysfunctional family; tested by the ups and downs of life many times. Later in life, Rachel (whose life is at a standstill) decides to spend a year of her life riding the city buses with her mentally challenged sister who is less than a year younger than her. Rachel is not sure if this will be the best or worst year of her life, but she wants to try to get to know her sister better. This story is a twist, and turn ride that any of us could be involved in with our own siblings. Rachel's story of Beth is a real eye-opener! I have worked with, and been friends with, mentally challenged people, but didn't always know what they thought, or how they really felt. I have wondered what goes on in their minds, and how they feel about themselves. Why do some just not like change? This book helped me to understand that they are their own persons. You may help them with suggestions, but in the end they have the right to decide things for themselves, and allowed to by law! I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a family member or friend who is mentally challenged or works with one. You understand why there are frustrations on both sides of the fence, and how great the people are who work constantly to better the lives of these forgotten humans! I highly recommend this book and give it a 5+++++ rating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book I borrowed from a family member, and it was an easy read. I related with the characters and have already sugested it to my sister. My nephew has a form of autism. My family gets criticized alot when in public. We always feel like we have it bad, until we place ourselves in other peoples' shoes. Good read and heart-warming!
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a memoir that reads like a novel - in a good way. Ms. Simon has interwoven her year riding the bus with her sister, who is mentally disabled, with memories of her past and her family. Both narratives serve to enrich and shed light on each other. This is as much a book about Ms. Simon's own growth as it is about her sister, Beth. And really, isn't that what people are in the end - who they are because of who they spend time with, who they live with and around. A very rewarding read.
touchthesky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the flashbacks, that were written in italics, better than the *current* story. The book is full of insight and enlightening moments that should be shared by all. However, I felt that the story was more about Rachel than Beth. Rachel's writing probably didn't have the same affect as on me, since I have family members with cognitive disabilities...but not a sibling. But, Rachel informs us about many life lessons that all of us should learn. A very interesting read.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a great bus ride! Did Beth ever turn the tables on Rachel! Rachel agrees to meet up with Beth every month and ride the buses with her, something Beth loves to do. Beth is mentally disabled and Rachel feels she will be helping her sister. And she does, in a way. But, more, Rachel learns from Beth and from Beth's mentors, the bus drivers, the really important things in life that Beth knows and Rachel has always missed.
Naty More than 1 year ago
A must read for everyone. This book will make you open your eyes to the world and see the similarities in the diferencies between all of us, typical or atypical peole, we have the same goal in life to be happy, to have friends, family and love
kathysoper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Scholarly, emotionally stunted older sister spends a year getting to know her mentally disabled sibling through shared journeys on the public transit system. Beautiful writing, beautiful meaning.
caitlinef on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this memoir captivating and heartbreaking. The author writes of her experiences riding the public bus system all day for a year, as a gift to her mentally ill sister. Rachel tries to deal with her sister Beth's impatient, rude, and stubborn nature, in an attempt to learn about the illness, and about Beth. Along this journey, Rachel is faced with an inner struggle, as she can not understand how her sister can be so open to people, while she buries herself in work and hides from forming real relationships. Through many fights and misunderstandings, the two sisters eventually learn to accept each other for who they really are, despite their differences. This memoir has a good message, however it is hard to get into, and can be dull at times. Rachel comes off as self- centered and annoying in several cases, but the story is worth reading if you have a sister.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
This is one of those novels that makes you feel good. It’s about making you stop and enjoy the smaller things in life, it’s about noticing someone other than yourself and it’s about realizing that we’re really all the same, we just go about life differently. In this novel, Rachel is beginning to play a bigger role in her younger sister, Beth’s life. Growing it, Rachel was told numerous times that she would need to help Beth when they got older. Now both in their late thirties, Beth is finally playing an active role in her life, I found this pretty amazing. Beth is mildly retarded and is living on her own. She loves riding the bus and does so every day. I loved Beth’s fascination with the bus, its punctuation, and its individuals. Her life revolves around riding the bus, this line of public transportation. Riding over a dozen buses and over a dozen hours a day, I love watching people and talking to people but doing this every day, that’s a lot! Beth has chosen which drivers she prefers to ride with, she knows which passenger they will be picking up and she knows exactly what time they will be arriving at each stop. But it goes deeper than this; Beth has become a part of some of these individuals’ lives. Not everyone is amused by Beth and her persistent talking. Some people find her annoying and are reluctant to accept her into their circle, for they still see her as different, someone to distant themselves from. On the bus, Beth shares stories with the bus drivers and with passengers sharing their lives with her, gathering friends and acquaintances. I laughed many times as Beth talked on the bus, not afraid to share her opinion, very excited and opinionated about the subject at hand. She’s very vocal and not one to change her mind once it was made up. As Rachel joins Beth on her trips, it was interesting to see how Rachel would see Beth’s world. Beth makes some mind provoking remarks to Rachel that we both reflected upon. She sees the world in a different light; it’s the same world only her view is different. There were many things inside this novel that were moments that made me stop and reflect. I liked listening to Beth; she was knowledgeable, bullheaded at times and funny at others. I thought it was a shame that not all her family couldn’t get to know her, I thought they were missing out on a great person.
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon is about the author's true story of riding public transportation with her sister, Beth, who has a mild cognitive disability (referred to in the book as mild retardation).   Does the author's name ring a bell?  It should, because Rachel Simon also wrote The Story of Beautiful Girl, which was fiction.  Beth, Rachel's sister, is capable of living alone and even has a boyfriend.  She lives off of wages from the state because her disability prevents her from being able to hold a full-time job.  However, Rachel, and the rest of the family, feel like Beth has the ability to hold a part-time job, many of which she starts but seems to sabotage so that she can be work-free.   But Beth also is unable to care for herself in certain ways.  She has some illnesses that need addressing, like eye drops, but isn't capable (or doesn't want to) put them in regularly.  She also eats terribly, snacking on junk food and staying away from anything even remotely healthy.  In Riding the Bus with My Sister, Rachel comes along on Beth's obsessive bus-riding journey.  A few times a month, Rachel takes time to drive to her sister and ride along the complicated bus route that Beth has mastered.  Rachel experiences people's welcoming, and disapproval, of Beth in many ways, including in many of the bus drivers.   But other bus drivers have taken a liking to Beth, and through those bus drivers, and the journey she takes, Rachel discovers that the year isn't about helping Beth as much as it is a story about Rachel finding herself.   Riding the Bus with My Sister isn't an exhilarating, can't-put-down kind of read.  But that doesn't make it any less valuable of a book.   What I found most valuable were the life lessons that Rachel learned, lessons and reminders of being a good person, that I could incorporate into my own life.  Thanks for reading,  Rebecca @ Love at First Book
GibbieTG More than 1 year ago
Book was for a Christmas gift but VERY VERY pleased with the service/shipping. Ordered it on-line because nobody had copies and within 2 days it was the UPS box and under the tree a hour later. Will DEFINATELY be using B&N again!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story about being self directed.
sp123 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. It really makes you aware of other people's situations in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book as an outside reading nonfiction assignment for school. The book was very interesting in terms of concept and very intriguing but i believe it could have had more captivating writing. The writing was simple and easy to understand, but i think simon could have delved a little deeper into the story and how it changed her instead of how she merely retold it in events. The concept is great though, and the book is inspiring based on the lessons and the way beth carried herself. I did get a little frustrated with rachel though! It was interesting with the interludes. Overall, it was a pretty good book but i feel could have been a little more philosophical. I would say take it out of the library to read as it is worth reading but don't pay 15 dollars ;)
penslnamia More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this book, but I was really disapointed. There just was no ups and downs. It just straight lined for me. The book was lovingly written, and I mean nothing negative towards the characters, but the actual plot was non existant.
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Dakota Ogle More than 1 year ago
you have probally thought that if or have wanted a family you wouldnt want a mental child which i am trying to say in a nice nonaffencive way but this book would make you feel comfortable or wanting to be around a person like this it is just that good but if you dont believe me have to ry it out yourselves
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sister relationships can be complicated --- this book exams one relationship. Touching and sensitivity written. We come to know both sisters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
oldeagle More than 1 year ago
From a rough childhood to a point where she begins to accept herself carries the reader through this true story. Rachel commits to riding a bus with her mentally disabled sister, Beth, for a year. Beth rides local busses every day and knows all of the local drivers.