Riding the Bus with my Sister, by Rachel Simon

This is a simple but memorable memoir about a professional woman in mid-life who has to come to terms with her relationship with her mentally retarded sister. Rachel agrees to spend a few days each month for one year riding the city buses with Beth — this being Beth’s favourite occupation. Along the way Rachel meets a lot of interesting characters, soaks in some homespun wisdom, and reflects on her own life path. All this might be a bit cliche, but what rescues it from being too saccharine is Rachel’s uncompromising honesty about her own ambivalent feelings towards Beth. Rachel makes it clear that she has learned much from Beth and respects her sister on her own terms, but she also faithfully reflects the frustration and disappointment of dealing with a family member who isn’t “normal.” I read this book quickly and really enjoyed it. Apparently it was made into a TV movie last year, starring Andie McDowell and Rosie O’Donnell. I didn’t see the movie, but based on the Amazon reviews I won’t be rushing out to buy it. Read the book; don’t wait for the movie.

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1 Comment

Filed under Nonfiction -- memoir

One response to “Riding the Bus with my Sister, by Rachel Simon

  1. I loved the book. I loved that the two sisters loved each other but there was nothing saccharine about it, and I could feel Rachel’s frustration many times, before she really began to understand Beth as herself, HER-SELF, and not as a failed expectation. I think she saw it most clearly when Beth’s boyfriend, Jesse, said he loved Beth ‘just to be Beth.’

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