Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

This is another book that I was lucky to get from a publisher's booth at BEA, in fact it was the same one, Running Press Teens.  Again I saw it sitting on the counter, and had seen it around the blogosphere, so asked if there was any chance I could have a copy of it.  And they happily obliged me.  And as I just finished it, and loved it, I'm so glad I spoke up and asked for it!

Now, the reviews I've seen on Goodreads are almost all either love it or hate it. And while I can kind of see the haters' side, I just don't understand why they couldn't get past their issues and love it.  But hey, as I say all the time, it is a good thing there are so many books out there, because there are so many different people with different tastes and issues.  Maybe it is my experience as a classroom teacher, and knowing the truth about how kids will act that helped me be able to see past the things people complained about.  I don't know.  Although one of those bad reviews did strike a tiny chord with me, and I'll mention that at the end of my review.

The main character is Cricket Montgomery.  And basically Cricket is a spoiled brat.  A rich girl who is in trouble with her father, and now gets sent to work at a summer camp for special needs kids, instead of getting to go to Hawaii with her best friend as planned.  She gets there and is immediately repulsed by the woman in charge, Rainbow.  Not to mention there is something weird about how this woman seems to know things about her that only someone in her real life would know.  Then she meets the other counselors.  And they all seem pretty nice, although the other female, who will be her bunkmate, is a little rude with her at first.  And then there is Quinn, the co-counselor that looks like a movie star.  Zac Efron to be exact.  (Which I'm totally down with that hottie!)  At first she seems to only be able to talk to Quinn.  She is freaked out that she has two of the campers that are basically paired with her.  Meredith, who is in a wheelchair, and Claire, who I believe has Down's Syndrome.  She's never really been around kids like that, and you can tell from the way she acts, and even talks about them.  But she tries not to be that way around the kids, or the other counselors.  Especially Quinn who she is trying to impress.  But one day when she goes to the top of a nearby tower to try to get cell phone signal, she is overheard saying some rude things, and must deal with that.  Of course the longer she is there, the more she gets to know and like the kids, and even becomes a better person herself.

One thing that people complained about is that the author mentions this novel is in no way politically correct.  And it isn't.  Sadly, it was definitely realistic.  While it did use the words we are not supposed to use when talking about these types of kids, they are the words that kids do use, every day.  Like it or not, it's reality.  And one post said that Cricket only changed to prove it to the boy she was in love with.  I didn't feel that way.  Yeah, she definitely wanted him to see that she wasn't the way he thought, but I didn't get the feeling that was all it was at the end.  She really had grown to like her campers. 

I have to say again that I just LOVED this!  It had me smiling at the really sarcastic bits.  I was really disappointed in some things, but still was glad to see how things changed for Cricket.  Oh yeah, one other complaint was about overweight people being picked on.  I can see the point the reviewer was making, and as an overweight person myself at the moment, I would feel bad.  Except, once again, it's reality.  Nice, or not nice, it is real.  And there was one line about being a lesbian that I'm not sure would be appropriate in this day and age of PC, but AGAIN, this book is real.  Really, really, really, real.  That's how kids are, those are the things they say and do.  Maybe one day we'll all be perfect humans and not pick on people or use words that hurt people's feelings.  I doubt it, but it's a nice dream.  For now, I'm going to continue to enjoy books that I find realistic, and that make me laugh.