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The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal
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The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  667 ratings  ·  129 reviews
A young man once called unteachable journeys across America to investigate the lives of those, like himself, who are forced to create new ways of living in order to survive

Labeled "dyslexic and profoundly learning disabled with attention and behavior problems," Jonathan Mooney was a short bus rider--a derogatory term used for kids in special education and a distinction tha
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Henry Holt and Co.
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The author takes a short bus around the country to interview freaks, weirdos, and other seemingly bizarre people who may or may not have been diagnosed with a disability.

Mooney is no outsider, as being labeled dyslexic himself, he went through similar experiences as the rest of his interviewees. This is a good thing, in my opinion, as it gets away from the "look at these abnormal people who are not like us, but are special in their own way" attitude and more of a "we are all weird, and that is g
I was really excited about it after reading the back cover and the first few pages, after hearing an interview with Mooney. I thought it was going to be a revolutionary perspective on celebrating differences. Alas, it did not turn out to be. Though it promised to be a book about people Mooney had met, it was really about himself - a young fella who has not necessarily embraced his differences, but at least outwardly overcome them. It was not necessary to refer to his post-secondary education by ...more
This book gives a lot to think about when encountering people who seem out of the mainstream. I was also amazed at the descriptive language the "LD" author used. As a former special education teacher, I saw a lot of the problems described in the book. Many of us in recent years have tried to give the student support, confidence, and self-love. Unfortunately most extra help can only be given with a label. Many of my LD students have been brilliant in a unique way. From the 5th grade Western roman ...more
Melissa Jones
I was assigned to read this as summer reading before entering my first year of college. I thought I would hate it and have trouble relating to it. However, I quite enjoyed this journey of a novel. I have always been a fairly good student and never understood my peers that didn't get good grades. This book helped me to understand that some people really do have problems with school and it wasn't whiney as I thought it would be. If you have ever felt like you didn't belong, you will be able to rel ...more
Lars Guthrie
I saw Jonathan Mooney speak last year, and had a similar experience reading his second book. That is, he is so in- your-face and apparently random that I started out not wanting to accept other people's praiseworthy evaluations of him. But he grows on you. And this tour across America and through the history of diagnosing those with special needs who are stereotyped and shunted out of mainstream life on those instantly identifiable buses is worth a little stick-to-itness. Mooney's insistence on ...more
Wow. Absolutely wow. This is definitely the type of book that allows the reader to take away any number of messages. Yes, this book is about the potentially tragic ways schools/schooling harm children with any type of learning or physical disability. You will be outraged (and surprised) by the experiences these individuals have/had in schools; absolutely outraged. You will be horrified (and maybe not that surprised) by the response these individuals receive/received by some community members.

A man whose early education label as "learning disabled" significantly altered his childhood and adolescence refurbishes a short bus and drives across the country, interviewing and spending time with "disabled" kids of all stripes. The author makes a fairly convincing argument that the medical model for the kinds of people he interviews is flawed, that there is nothing wrong with them, that they do not need to be fixed. At first I questioned the author's thesis. I wondered if his passion for his ...more
The stories of these "otherly-abled" individuals profiled in this book are a blunt reminder of how tenuously we can cling to the label of "normal" to describe ourselves and others. Rather, the human condition is a collection of continuums, and where we land is largely due to fate. This book is important in that it could help bring forth compassion towards "the other"--those that face physical, emotional, and mental obstacles in their lives through no fault of their own, relegated to riding "The ...more
Evan Taylor
This book attests to our society's demand for an idea or concept of normalcy and the desire to get everyone to conform so they can exist in the world that we have conformed for ourselves to live in. This book calls to attention our own obsession with normalcy and how we have lost our true selves in trying to become what society deems normal. I believe that we are all created in God's image and that it takes us a while to remove all of the make-up and masks to see our true selves in the mirror ag ...more
Dana Schroeder
Mooney writes a sometimes poignant, sometimes funny memoir about growing up with a learning disability. After graduating from Brown University, Mooney buys a short bus (often used to transport students with disabilities to school), converts it into an RV and embarks on a journey across country to interview various individuals and their families about their experiences overcoming disabilities. Interspersed throughout the story of Mooney's travels, he reveals glimpses of his own experiences and of ...more
A meditation on the meaning of "normal."

Update: I'm adding another star after the fact because I'm finding that the book is sticking with me in unexpected ways. I'm looking at people like the Asperger's-ish guy on my bus differently than I did before I read it.
From the time he started school, Jonathan Mooney had problems fitting in with the educational system. His labels were ADHD and learning disability. Jon was eventually able to attend Brown University and graduate with honors with a degree in English literature. This is amazing for a kid who had great difficulty reading and writing. In this book, he wonders, "where did the idea of normalcy from?" and how people with labels have made it in the world. He decides to drive a short bus across the count ...more
i thought the short bus would be interesting, and i was curious to read it as i'm always joking about how i'm "special" or how i ride the short bus to school still, and my personal favorite is that when it's my time to go, God will be sending the short bus to heaven for me.

well, i just finished reading the book a few minutes ago. this book was very interesting for me to read as a teacher and was definitely thought provoking. this book, once again reminded me of the influence schools have and th
Jennifer Radtke
A friend of mine and I were talking last fall about renting a short bus for our next women's outing for the church because our group is "special". We got talked out of it because it would "send the wrong message". We didn't understand entirely because it would be a perfect fit for the number of people and it would be fun. I personally didn't have a problem with it because I rode the short bus in kindergarten. I've told the story that it was because there weren't so many kids to get bused. But af ...more
Sep 06, 2008 Donalyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers and parents
Recommended to Donalyn by: Carol H.
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
When my friend, Carol, raved about this book and loaned me her copy, I was not sure what to expect. Mooney's memoir about driving a short school bus across the country to visit various people with disabilities sounded intriguing, but I was not sure I was up for the guilt the book would no doubt engender.

I should not have worried. Mooney, who has ADHD and dyslexia, confronts his own guilt about striving to separate himself from the painful struggles of his childhood. He went on his own quest for
Author Jonathan Mooney was a short bus kid, a special ed kid, a retard, however you want to put it. Basically he was dyslexic, had a hard time learning to read, and had a hard time staying focused, in part due to stress. He was put in special ed early in his school career and suffered all the taunting that the rest of us dished out, or watched being dished out. He went on to graduate from Brown University with honors, though he still struggles with whether or not he wants or should try to fit in ...more
This book is about Jonathan Mooney's trip around the country in a short bus. Jonathan is was labeled Learning Disabled with ADHD in 3rd grade and put into special education. He did not have a good experience. He hated school and associated the short bus with special ed. His trip around the country was to meet other people labeled as disabled or different. It was a way to try to find himself and work through his own disabilities. I have been looking for a book about the emotional toll having a le ...more
Below are a few reviews for the Short Bus.
So far I am enjoying reading about Mooney's journey to understand his past and his quest to learn about how others have overcome their label(s) in life.

“The Short Bus is a wonderful ‘on the road’ story that beats out even Kerouac’s book. . . . Superbly written.”—John McKnight, author of The Careless Society.

“Curious and compassionate, clearheaded and self-questioning, enlightened and illuminating, Jonathan Mooney takes us on a modern yet timeless odysse
Joe Haynes
For anyone who went through any form of special education, this book is for you.

Reading this book brought back some memories for me. I came through an educational system that treated me as an oddity. In fifth grade I was spending my extra hours reading such books as "All Animals Wise and Wonderful" by James Herriott while my classmates were all reading comics. I had a hard time with how they taught math so my teachers started to label me as a slow learner. Needless to say, I went on to high sch
Jonathan Mooney, diagnosed dyslexic and ADD, after graduating from Brown University with honors and cowriting a book about his personal journey, decided to embark on another journey in a vehicle symbolic of all that's labeled outside of "normal." Short buses historically (and sometimes currently) transported students who were labeled with disabilities. Mooney's adventure takes him to meet all sorts of unusual people, most of whom were labeled with disabilities somewhere along the way.

He meets ot
Angelina Justice
This book was magnificent. Having spent his life grappling with the labels that were affixed to his learning differences, Jon is going on a physical and emotional journey to leave it behind. The book chronicles Jon's journey both introspectively and geographically. Jon's epic road trip was all about setting himself free, and he did.

I deeply appreciated the honesty with which he told his story. Too often when people write books about learning differences or non-typical personalites, they try to
Sonia Reppe
If this manages to keep your interest, you can find one or two points to agree with, like: ones personal stuggles shape the person they become and can make them a better person. But good fiction can get this across and you don't have to wade through this sludge. This book, written by a dyslexic guy who graduated from Brown, is just so boring and serious. I don't want to read a treatise on learning disabilities and their social conceptualizations (his words—see how boring?) through-out history. H ...more
Jun 21, 2008 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Jonathan Mooney was diagnosed as Learning Disabled, Dyslexic and ADHD - he was told he would be lucky to graduate from high school. He eventually graduated from an Ivy League University and proved all his former teachers wrong. After college Jon started speaking at schools around the country encouraging special ed kids that they could make something of themselves dispite their supposed "disabilies". While doing these speaking engagements Jon met lots of kids who were dealing with many of the pro ...more
Bethany Joy
This was an interesting and engaging book about the experience of special education and society for people "beyond the norm. It was an excellent brief look at some of the social and psychological effects of the many subtle and over attacks people who are in the "cognitive minority" may experience. I appreciated the very personal format of the book as Jonathan Mooney's journey around the US in a "short bus". However, the best part of the book were the simple stories of the people he encounters, a ...more
I appreciate the honest raw account of growing up in special education. Just like adults, children seek to be accepted for who they are not what they can or cannot do. School is the only place in one's life where we focus on the negative...what children can't do as perceived by an arbitrary set of rules. While Jonathan couldn't get his thoughts down on paper in the sixth grade and was perceived that he was a failure, he has proven to be a writer. Can you be a writer and not physically write the ...more
Feb 09, 2008 Eviltwinjen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who hated school, people interested in education, proud freaks
I laughed, I cried...was it better than Cats? Possibly, although that would be a weird comparison. Seriously, though, here's what I wrote for the library's newsletter:

"Jonathan Mooney's moving road trip tale challenges our assumptions about what it means to be different in a world of diagnoses and disorders. It's also hilarious. Join the author as he drives around the country in an old "short bus", exorcising his demons and collecting the stories of other non-traditional learners."

All this is tr
I read this book because I'd read somewhere that he'd interviewed someone from my home town. (Probably in her obituary - she died last year). Mooney spends a lot of time musing on his own history of trying to fit in as normal - a problem that is so universal, that it is on the boring side. He goes on a road trip in a short bus to find people freakier than himself to either get more in touch with his freaky self, or to just feel better. His story is rambling with some interesting parts. I did enj ...more
I read this book because I'd read somewhere that he'd interviewed someone from my home town. (Probably in her obituary - she died last year). Mooney spends a lot of time musing on his own history of trying to fit in as normal - a problem that is so universal, that it is on the boring side. He goes on a road trip in a short bus to find people freakier than himself to either get more in touch with his freaky self, or to just feel better. His story is rambling with some interesting parts. I did enj ...more
Feb 03, 2014 Nancy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are beyond normal
We all remember the kids who rode on the short bus to school, but Jonathan Mooney doesn't quite fit the mold. And with this book he attempts to break that mold - or - better yet, prove to us that there never was a mold in the first place. He's right, and successfully shows us just how right during this funny, unpredictable trip across the country in his very own short bus. He meets an astonishing array of people who contribute vital skills and talents to the world that most of us fail to appreci ...more
Jonathan Mooney was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended recently. His speech was inspiring and uplifting and quite powerful. He focused on the negative impact on kids identified and placed in special education.

His book is written with the same underlying message--we do a horrible disservice to children when we treat them differently for not being "normal". He emphasizes his point by driving across country in a refurbished "short bus", spending time with people he'd met at various lec
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