Riding the Bus with My Sister

( 35 )

Overview

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 ...

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Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Herald
"A heartwarming, life-affirming journey through both the present and the past...Read this book. It just might change your life."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Clever and unsentimental."
Jacquelyn Mitchard
"With tenderness and fury, heartbreak and acceptance...Simon comes to the inescapable conclusion that we are all riders on the bus, and on the bus we are all the same."
From the Publisher
"A heartwarming, life-affirming journey through both the present and the past...Read this book. It just might change your life."—Boston Herald

"Clever and unsentimental."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"With tenderness and fury, heartbreak and acceptance...Simon comes to the inescapable conclusion that we are all riders on the bus, and on the bus we are all the same."—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author or The Deep End of the Ocean

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455526161
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Pages: 385
  • Sales rank: 126,594
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Simon

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.

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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


CHAPTER 1

January


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."
(Continues...)


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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Riding the Bus of Life

    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.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2005

    An Inspiring True Story

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Dianne C. for Readers Favorite This is a captivatin

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Offers a different view of life

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2005

    5 stars???

    I chose to read this book after having read all the wonderful reviews posted on this website. Unfortunately, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment. If I could give it zero stars I would. I found it excruciatingly difficult to get through, and I had to force myself to finish it. The story line is bland and uninspiring. Furthermore, I don't know what city this is where bus drivers are would-be philosophers who dole out sappy proverbs on a daily basis and say things like 'The only thing that's going to satisfy me is to do good in this life.' Right, because bus drivers say things like that... Its only saving grace was that it was a short read, since overall this book was a waste of my time.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon is about the autho

    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

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  • Posted January 10, 2014

    Wonderful service/shipping

    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!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Self Direction

    Great story about being self directed.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    Recommended

    I enjoyed this book very much. It really makes you aware of other people's situations in life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Inspiring but had a little bit more potential

    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 ;)

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  • Posted October 19, 2011

    just-ok

    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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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    someones future family dream

    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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2010

    Good reading for sisters

    Sister relationships can be complicated --- this book exams one relationship. Touching and sensitivity written. We come to know both sisters.

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  • Posted October 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Loved the book so much that I am now reading the sequel.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2006

    God Bless Rachel

    I really enjoyed this book. I loved Simon's writing style. So fluid. I must be a terrible person because Beth irritated me more then I felt compassion for her. I wanted to shake her! I wanted to scream GET A JOB! Rachel had the patience of a saint even when she faltered she didn't give up on herself or Beth and I really admired her. I think it was more a story about Rachel then Beth, but never self-serving on Rachel's part. For me, the lesson learned was from Rachel's journey, not Beth's. I thought the family stories were an excellent addition to the bus riding storyline. I liked them more. Having said that I will never look at a developmentally disabled person the same way again, or a bus driver for that matter. It was a touching story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    an inspiring read!

    This story was truly inspiring - Rachel's ability to form such a close relationship with her sister by just becoming more open-minded showed me that can apply not just to understanding disabled people better but all people, especially those whom we may judge too quickly. A great vacation/beach read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2004

    And I thought we were all strange

    This book touch so many feelings about my own disability, and yet it helped me accept myself a little better. It was so moving and at times made me cry....what a wonderful story of not only family but the strangers that touch our lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Accepting Who I Am

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    Wake up call

    This book warmed my heart as well as opening my eyes. Being a sister of a mentally retarded sibling, this book hit very close to home. Each character she meets really is like a separate life lesson. I would recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2003

    Insightful

    This book made me realize just how many people that I walk right by and never give a second thought to. How there is wisdom to be learned where you would least expect it. Very good.

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