Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell.
Running Press Teen, Running Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2014.
Teen realistic fiction, 252 pages.
Note: This is fiction although I am not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
Cricket Montgomery was caught trying to smoke pot in the stables (we later find out it was actually oregano), so her usually lenient father has shipped her off to be a camp counselor. She knows nothing about the camp, so she faints when she finds out she’s going to be working with disabled teens and pre-teens. Her goal is to get out of camp as quickly as possible, but an attractive fellow counselor might change her mind.
I got this from the dollar store, even though the title turned me off. This whole book was a miss for me and I won’t be keeping it. As you can guess from the title, the book starts with a very disrespectful attitude toward people with disabilities.
There were way too many coincidences and things that made no sense. All the camp counselors are weird except the one who happened to look like Zac Efron? Who also really likes her.
The development of the character didn’t work for me either. She was presented as a stuck-up rich girl but then suddenly morphed into an incredibly caring assistant for disabled preteens in less than two weeks. Her father’s actions similarly made no sense. He sent her to be a camp counselor for disabled teens without actually telling her? Yet she really loves him and they are supposed to have this strong connection. The intention for the plot was there, but there was simply too much character development and changes happening in such a short amount of time. Perhaps if the book took place over an entire summer it might have been better, but as it stands this read like a rough draft.
There are so many warnings to give for this book. Cricket mocks the disabled teens a lot and has some pretty heavy prejudice. People of color are identified by their ethnicity but others are assumed to be white. A teen in a wheelchair is presented as a friend but his crush on Cricket is overlooked, he’s never taken seriously as a romantic interest.
At one point the young counselors go out to a bar even though only one of them is 21. He buys beer for everyone and Cricket, when he refuses to buy her more than one drink, she sneaks out to the parking lot and drinks an entire bottle of Jack Daniels in an attempt to get fired. She gets incredibly drunk and although the other counselors take care of her, she makes sexual advances to the male counselor she likes. He then expresses interest in her the next day after holding her while she vomits at night.
At the end of the book, the author has a note stating that she wanted to write a book that was not politically correct. The author info also states that she has a daughter who is differently abled, which presumably is giving her the credentials to write this novel.
Sadly, I find it highly unlikely that the intended audience would actually read this book, and the kids who would actually read it are likely to be turned off by the insensitive title and opening chapters. Combined with the at times very adult content, and the jumbled writing, I cannot recommend it.