In 2003, Jonathan Mooney, a dyslexic young man, set out on a journey in a short bus for several months. From a very young age, Jon was told that he would be unable to make anything of himself. But, he beat the odds, graduating from Brown University with a degree in English literature, and wrote a book about his experiences growing up learning disabled.
I loved this book. This particular memoir reminds me of the bullying that goes on in schools, including the schools that I attended in junior high and high school. I was once a target for some bullying in seventh grade, but I eventually overcame it. It was tame verbal teasing, compared to what some of these kids and adults underwent in The Short Bus.
Personally, I think bullying can come from kid’s lack of understanding. Because of a lack of understanding, or because of a hurt they themselves possess, kids bully each other.
The notion that the bullies are hurting did not occur to me until I read this book. I’d always assumed that bullies bullied because they could, because they were mean kids. This makes so much sense to me, especially now that I’m older.
The different stories presented in The Short Bus are ones of triumph: triumph over learning disabilities, or various problems that these kids and adults are facing. It can be as simple as seeking approval, like in Cookie’s situation. It can be as challenging as trying to learn in a classroom, because it is hard to sit still, see, or hear. Reading aloud can be terrifying for kids–and adults–who have dyslexia. ADD or ADHD can make it hard to sit still, or even follow through with directions for some people.
There are so many kinds of disabilities, some I’d heard of, and some I had to learn for myself. It was interesting to learn the origins of various labels such as Asperger’s.
The Short Bus heralds the achievements of young kids and adults alike. This is a physical and mental journey as well, one that focuses on the changes that can occur if you are open to it. I highly recommend this novel, because it is uplifting and extremely positive. This memoir focuses on the abilities of the people mentioned in it, instead of their disabilities.