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Precious Cargo: My Year of Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077

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Surprising and revelatory non-fiction from a talented young writer whose last book, Cataract City, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Book Prize, and was a Globe Best Book and national bestseller.

With his last novel, Cataract City, Craig Davidson established himself as one of our most talented novelists. But in his early thirties, before writing that novel and before his previous work, Rust and Bone, was made into an Oscar-nominated film, Davidson experienced a period of poverty, apparent failure and despair. In this new work of intimate, riveting and timely non-fiction, based loosely on a National Magazine Award-winning article he published in The Walrus, Davidson tells the story of one year in his life--a year during which he came to a new, mature understanding of his own life and his connection to others. Or, as Davidson would say, he became an adult.
     One morning in 2008, desperate and impoverished and living in a one-room basement apartment while trying unsuccessfully to write, Davidson plucked a flyer out of his mailbox that read, "Bus Drivers Wanted." That was the first step towards an unlikely new career: driving a school bus full of special-needs kids for a year. Armed only with a sense of humour akin to that of his charges, a creative approach to the challenge of driving a large, awkward vehicle while corralling a rowdy gang of kids, and surprising but unsentimental reserves of empathy, Davidson takes us along for the ride. He shows us how his evolving relationship with the kids on that bus, each of them struggling physically as well as emotionally and socially, slowly but surely changed his life along with the lives of the "precious cargo" in his care. This is the extraordinary story of that year and those relationships. It is also a moving, important and universal story about how we see and treat people with special needs in our society.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

400 pages, ebook

First published May 17, 2016

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About the author

Craig Davidson

36 books722 followers
Craig Davidson is a Canadian author of short stories and novels, who has published work under both his own name and the pen names Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter

Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was raised in Calgary and St. Catharines.

His first short story collection, Rust and Bone, was published in September 2005 by Penguin Books Canada, and was a finalist for the 2006 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Stories in Rust and Bone have also been adapted into a play by Australian playwright Caleb Lewis and a film by French director Jacques Audiard.

Davidson also released a novel in 2007 named The Fighter. During the course of his research of the novel, Davidson went on a 16-week steroid cycle. To promote the release of the novel, Davidson participated in a fully sanctioned boxing match against Toronto poet Michael Knox at Florida Jack's Boxing Gym; for the novel's subsequent release in the United States, he organized a similar promotional boxing match against Jonathan Ames. Davidson lost both matches.

His 2013 novel Cataract City was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

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5 stars
538 (17%)
4 stars
1,218 (40%)
3 stars
1,038 (34%)
2 stars
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1 star
48 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 413 reviews
July 13, 2022
When is a novel fiction and when is it reality? The author never made that clear. The author wrote in the introduction that he wrote the parents of the disabled children whose school bus he drove that he was a writer and might one day write about the experience. Then he writes, "Nearly all the names of all the kids save one - have been changed." etc. The last sentence of the introduction is, "I hope I have managed to be faithful to the experiences we shared." That all sounds like a memoir, right?

But then, all four sections, named after the seasons, is entitled "From The Seekers, an unpublished novel."

So which is it, fiction - a novel, or memoir?

I didn't like the book at all. It was much more about him than the children and with the confusion of is this fiction or a memoir, I couldn't really get into the author. Also I wasn't very interested in the author, I was more interested in the children. But then when he wrote about the children, the same problem, were these 'real children' or were they fictionalised for the purpose of his novel?

Evenutally I dnf'd it. Sometimes I dnf a book and would read more of an author's books, but not this one. However, it is one of those books where my personal opinion may be nothing like anyone else's, I can see that some people might really enjoy it, just not me.
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,531 followers
June 5, 2018
Precious Cargo is Canadian novelist Craig Davidson’s memoir about the year he spent driving a school bus for special needs students. At the time, Davidson was at a low point in his life and career. After early success (his first book of stories and novel were bought by an agent), he was floundering, broke, suffering from writer’s block, and living alone in a basement apartment in Calgary. He saw a flyer (!) for driving the bus, went for an interview, received some training and before long he was behind the wheel of a shortbus picking up his "precious cargo" – a lovely official term for his special passengers.

The year he recounts, especially getting to know the one-of-a-kind kids he transported from home to school and back again, transformed him, forced him to grow up and take responsibility for himself. It also gave him a creative jolt; he kept notes about his experiences, eventually publishing an award-winning magazine article, which became the basis for this book.

His portraits of his five passengers are funny, insightful and moving, without ever being sentimental. The kids’ disabilities range from autism (Gavin) to Fragile X Syndrome (Oliver) to cerebral palsy (Jake). Each student has his or her routine with Craig – even the order in which he picks them up and drops them off is the same – and he’s careful to stick with that routine. He plays along with their jokes (and adds a few of his own, like dressing up as Elvis for Halloween), their lies (some of which are hilarious), challenges them with pop culture trivia and – presumably – starts seeing the world through other people’s eyes when he’s taken so much for granted in his own life.

More seriously, Davidson defends his wards against bullies, even going so far as to threaten to beat up one bully’s father. (That section is one of the most vivid.) And he gradually begins to see how challenging life can be for the disabled. He becomes especially good friends with one student, whose family suffered a terrible tragedy.

One element of the book that didn’t work for me were the sections from an unpublished novel called The Seekers. The book proper is divided into four sections, one for each season, and each begins with an excerpt from this unpublished novel. The significance of these passages becomes clearer as the book progresses, but I have to admit that these bits slowed things down.

Elsewhere, Davidson’s writing is clear, frank, and often just stunning: he can capture the smell of streets after a rainfall, or the way heat shimmers on a road. There’s one section about how everything is made up of carbon that is deeply philosophical and profound. And I even came to love his descriptions of maintaining school bus #3077.

I’m glad there was no feel good epiphany at the end… no big Dead Poets Society hug marathon or something equally icky. The understated way Davidson recounts saying goodbye to his year-long charges was all the more moving because of it. And the author even muses on the ethical idea of writing about these people's lives, quoting two lines (one: "Writers are always selling somebody out") from the great Joan Didion that prompted me pick up one of her early books just after finishing this.

I’m going to seek out Davidson’s fiction. I’ve read two of the thrillers he’s written under the pseudonym Nick Cutter, and I interviewed him a few years ago about one of them. I was wowed by one of his short stories in the Best American Short Stories 2014 collection. But now I want to read his other stuff.

He’s one of the more intriguing mid-career writers out there, and this memoir made me admire and appreciate his craft and humanity.
2 reviews2 followers
April 29, 2016
I was sitting on the edge of my seat as Craig Davidson was previewing raw, unpublished writing about piloting a school bus with special needs children in Calgary and the bonds he formed with his “cargo”. It was a 2015 reading. I was transfixed. I was mesmerized. These children provided him an unforgettable experience and a much needed lift as he was struggling through some dark times. And, I wanted more.

I got more with the release of “Precious Cargo” and the book was not a continuation of his reading. Some passages were powerful, but only in spots. He admitted in the opening pages that his years as a “clown” enabled him to entertain and tell stories. This allowed specific interactions and moments to be captured well. Specifically, his friendship with Jake outside of the bus, the nuances and quirks that Oliver possessed and his experience dressed up as Elvis on Halloween. The detail was natural. It was less about entertaining the reader and more about the experience and unprocessed emotion. If the book had continued in this way, I could have been transfixed once again.

The writing felt rushed and forced. It became repetitive as it progressed through different seasons (sections). The unpolished parts detracting from the powerful passages. The writing style worked better capturing dialogue than it did attempting to describe what he was seeing or feeling or empathizing with his precious cargo. It seemed that I was never more than a few paragraphs away from a lazy simile or tired metaphor. For example, words like bone were used continually. The cold chilled to the bone or the worry was bone-deep. The style was not elegant. I was expecting something closer to “Cataract City” rather from his horror pseudonym, Nick Cutter.

I could not determine whether the book was about him or about his passengers or about a strange unpublished piece of fiction called “The Seekers” that started each section. “The Seekers” did not add anything except for pages. Maybe, I was missing the point as it barely started to become clear in the final pages as his characters converged. I led me to ask whether he was going to monetize this experience no matter what — whether fiction or non-fiction. It seemed convenient that he would try to have the best of both worlds.

I believe that there was a compelling and interesting story buried in these pages. I had to search for them in a book that was untidy and about 100 pages too long. It may have been the words that formed the magazine article by the author that spawned this book. Perhaps, he should have left it at that.
Profile Image for Allison.
262 reviews41 followers
February 7, 2018
What a beautiful surprise!

Read it! Read this book! It was funny and fantastic and so well written. I laughed so hard I spit out my food at one point. I shed a tear near the end. I felt everything, every sentence, travel right up inside my veins and straight into my heart.

The book is endearing and wonderful. It's the *nicest* book I have ever read -- and that's truly a compliment. It's a book filled with heart and soul and generous insight and wonder. I'm going to be giving it everyone this year, I think. It'll be my go-to book present.

And as far as Canada Reads go (this is on the short list), Precious Cargo is nothing less than a total breath of fresh air. I LOVE Canada Reads. Possibly their biggest fan. But I've never seen a book like this make the cut, and I just can't wait to watch it be defended. Good luck!!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
888 reviews
September 19, 2020
In 2008 Craig Davidson was looking for work to put food on his table and fuel in his vehicle, when he spied an advertisement for a School Bus Driver - No Experience Needed. He applied for the job and was successful in getting the job. He humourously relates his story in PRECIOUS CARGO: MY YEAR OF DRIVING THE KIDS ON SCHOOL BUS 3077.
This is the extraordinary story of that year and how his evolving relationships with the physically, socially, and emotionally challenged children on School Bus 3077 changed his life and the lives of his "Precious Cargo". It is also a moving, important and universal story about how we see and treat people with special needs in our society. 4*
Profile Image for Steven.
219 reviews2 followers
May 26, 2016
Ugh! That was a little torturous to be Honest!
The write up sounded awesome but once reading I realized he just need to churn out a book to his publisher! I hardly paid attention past halfway! The narrative is whiny and self loathing and really more about what a loser he was than about the kids
Profile Image for Brandon.
902 reviews233 followers
April 18, 2016
Author Craig Davidson had been having trouble making ends meet when he took a chance on a job posting for a school bus driver for special needs kids. Originally written as a piece for Avenue magazine, Craig expanded his experience into a full length memoir. Davidson rounds out the book by adding in struggles he faced early in his writing career, as well as snippets from an unpublished novel, The Seekers.

When I attended one of Davidson’s readings last year in Halifax, he read from a yet unpublished work, a work that would become Precious Cargo. It’s no secret I’m a big Davidson (or his pseudonym Nick Cutter) fan. While it sounded interesting, I was worried it would read like a fluff piece. Releasing this book seemed like an odd choice considering the direction he’d recently taken in his career by producing stomach-churning horror novels. It almost felt like he needed to write something heart-warming to prove he isn't a complete psychopath.

Precious Cargo is indeed that heart-warming story, but it feels very genuine. I laughed out loud along with Davidson and his rag-tag crew of students as they made their way through the school year. The book never feels exploitative, you really feel that Davidson considered the kids his friends and the laughs and lessons he learned along the way were legitimate.

This typically isn’t the type of book I would pick up if it hadn't had Craig Davidson’s name on the cover. Nothing against the subject matter - I’m more of a true crime/crime fiction kind of guy - but it generally isn’t the genre that attracts me. However, I’m glad I did read it. It’s weird labelling a book about a depressed, desperate writer driving a short bus filled with handicapped children a “fun read”, but that’s what I came away with.
Profile Image for Alex.
646 reviews88 followers
March 6, 2018
By far the weakest of the Canada Reads book. It's alturism-porn, written in a way the author certainly feels is respectful to the special needs kids he drove around for a year, but comes off as degrading and condescending. You don't get a cookie for being a decent human being, and this book screams out "give me a cookie." better not win.
Profile Image for Wanda.
257 reviews10 followers
February 8, 2018
This is a meaningful and heart warming story. It stirs up the good emotions and humble thoughts. I highly recommend for a balanced dose of humor and humility.
Profile Image for ❀ Susan G.
690 reviews51 followers
February 10, 2018

Precious Cargo had been sitting on my shelf since I met Craig Davidson at the Grimsby Author Series in November 2016. I picked it up again when I met Craig at the One Book One Brant Event in April 2017 which united the community to read his novel, Cataract City. The third time, I was reminded to pick up Precious Cargo was when it was announced as part of the 2018 Canada Reads short-list. It seemed appropriate that I had procrastinated reading this gem until it was chosen for Canada Reads, one of my favourite Canadian book events.

This book is heartwarming, it is sweet, it is reflective and, at times, it is funny. It leads the reader to think about the challenges that everyone faces. No one is immune to hardship, yet some challenges are more overtly seen by others. Craig begins sharing that he was down on his luck. He had quit a job at the library after a disagreement over watering a ficus plant. He was not qualified to work as a worm harvester and was not the successful candidate for a lunch monitor position. When he came across a flyer seeking school bus drivers, he embarked on a year of learning about himself, witnessing some shocking human nature and the understanding the challenges faced by his students (and their families).

Precious Cargo is open, honest and at times heartbreaking. It is a book to open your eyes, to make readers think about their own reactions. Do you avert your eyes from an individual with cerebral palsy? Does your child invite their classmates with autism to the party? Have you ever made comments about the short bus? How do you react if your kids use the “r” word or slap their hand against their chest signifying the word?

This book is about acceptance – of the author himself as he struggled to make ends meet and the children who experienced day to day challenges at school and making their way in the world. It is about caring, kindness, laughter. It is about taking a chance, doing something new and being open to experience.

One constructive criticism was that I did not love the additions of his unpublished novel, The Seekers into the book. These snippets were interspersed between the chapters and I am not sure that they added to the story. Despite these sections, I truly believe that this is one book that Canada should read.

Precious Cargo is a book that young and old can learn from. It is a book that causes reflection and will inspire kindness. Perhaps we can all learn from Craig’s experience driving a bus and getting to know some remarkable children who taught Craig some lessons on the journey.
Profile Image for Brooke.
684 reviews88 followers
July 9, 2020
3.5 stars.

In Precious Cargo, Craig Davidson (also known by his pseudonym, Nick Cutter) recounts the year he spent driving a bus for a group of children and teens with disabilities. Down on his luck and strapped for cash, Davidson takes the first job he can get, not knowing how impactful his experience will be and how much he will learn about disability and how disabled folks are treated in an able-bodied world. Davidson confronts his own preconceived notions of disability, but I wish he had dug a little deeper. Overall though, Precious Cargo is a feel-good, heartwarming story that also offers valuable (but relatively surface level) lessons.
Profile Image for Samantha Mitchell .
195 reviews30 followers
February 27, 2018
There aren’t many times I can count where I a) binge read a book and b) forget where I am because I’m so invested. Especially for a non-fiction. I loved this story, hilarious and real, but the five star rating comes from the relationship I felt to Jake. The writer exposes the feeling of going from ‘normal’ to ‘disabled’ in a way I’ve never sat down and thought about before. The writer says people clear their way for Jake, pity him, and he always feeling like everyone is watching him - even when they’re not. The yearning for a normal life and realizing it’s been right in front of you all along was a lesson I’ll relearn over and over. Precious Cargo was a great surprise that will renew your love for can-lit.

“I accomplished everything I set out to do, so why don’t I feel the euphoria I’d expected?”

“I can say that the joy in my life comes from the places where it had always resided. My family and friends. The woman I love. Our son. Little things, but they feel like big things.”
Profile Image for Kristina Abretti.
37 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2018
I rarely give 5 stars but found this to be one of the most beautiful and heartfelt books I've read in a long time. It was a pleasure reading about the kids on Bus 3077 - all of their quirks and stories and mannerisms - I laughed out loud and genuinely had moments where I paused to re-read certain quotes that I knew would - and should - stick with me (sometimes I even read them to Graham!) I teared up when to Craig they became "kids, same as any other kids," and kids who changed his life at that.
Profile Image for Robin Reynolds.
766 reviews37 followers
March 31, 2019
Broke after some early success as a writer, Craig Davidson was desperate for any job that could provide some income. He had just applied for, and not gotten, a Lunch Supervisor position, when he found a flyer for bus drivers wanted. He called, and wound up driving a “short bus” with six special needs children.

I was a bit astounded at how easily he was hired to drive a school bus. I guess I just assumed that the drivers who pilot our kids around go through a rigorous screening process first. Of course, this is in Canada, and I live in the States (and in the interest of full disclosure, my kids only rode a bus for a few days one semester and hated it so much I drove them after that), but maybe it's also that easy here.

It took me a little bit to get into the book. I guess I just wasn't that interested in the author's life before he began driving the bus. And at first the occasional excerpts from the “unpublished novel” irritated me and seemed pointless. But once Craig started his training it began to pick up for me, and as time went by the excerpts began to make more sense story wise.

And once the actual driving begins and Craig meets his charges, I was pretty riveted. I won't go into detail about each child and the challenges they faced, but his descriptions of them were vivid and thoughtful. As he gets to know the kids better, driving the bus becomes more than a job and his relationship with them becomes more than just being their bus driver. So it kind of puzzled me that when the school year ended, he just quit being a bus driver, and never really said why or what he was moving on to. Though I guess it started out as just a means to an end, to generate some income so he could afford to continue writing.

Regardless, this little peek into the lives of five extraordinary kids and their bus driver is heartwarming and feel good.
Profile Image for Brandon Forsyth.
891 reviews146 followers
April 7, 2018
Totally heartwarming. I read this slowly, about a chapter a day, as this year's Canada Reads debates were being held, and slowly started to root for this one. I feel like a more compassionate human being for having read this beautiful little book, and while the Canada Reads panelists ultimately chose FORGIVENESS, I think this deserves to be widely read as well.
Profile Image for k.
233 reviews10 followers
April 10, 2016
while i really liked the parts davidson wrote about himself, especially his writing and his frustrations with his image of himself as a writer, it definitely occasionally strayed into the pitfalls of a book written by an able-bodied person about disabled people: references to how inspiring the kids were because of their disabilities. it worked best when davidson wasn't trying to make a point about how we're all people on the inside and the same despite our differences, and instead just told stories about the kids.
Profile Image for Barth Siemens.
353 reviews12 followers
February 12, 2018
4 Feb 2018 I put the book down one quarter of the way in because, as I turned the page, I felt my gorge rise. He seriously likes the sound of his own voice—not in a good way.

12 Feb 2018 I realized upon further reflection that my visceral reaction is probably influenced by my feelings by another author, who lives in North Vancouver. I liked his writing well enough until I met him; then I couldn't stand him or his writing. No, I won't acknowledge his name.

Sad really, because I might have enjoyed this book. Hope you do.
Profile Image for Heather(Gibby).
1,222 reviews21 followers
February 13, 2018
This is a personal memoir about a year the author spent driving some middle school and high school aged kids with disabilities on a school bus. The author is very open and honest about his own views and the personal growth he experienced from his daily contact with thee kids and how much they taught him about themselves and more importantly his own self.

Woven within the memoir is excerpts from a science fiction story the author had written featuring thee kids as the hero of the story.
Profile Image for Rainey.
449 reviews2 followers
February 26, 2018
I really loved this book. I became very wrapped up in the lives of the students. I admit I slowed down my reading in the end because I didn't want the story to end - knowing that I wouldn't have an ending to the students lives in that I would not know how they went on with their lives - what happened to them?

Also a thank you to Canada Reads. I never would have picked up this book otherwise.
Profile Image for Gina Murdoch.
484 reviews14 followers
February 19, 2018
I really couldn’t fault this book for anything. Craig Davidson writes so beautifully and I feel grateful to have shared in even a tiny sliver of the joy that the students on Bus 3077 gave him. The quirks and general ‘imperfections’ associated with each child made me smile as I’ve seen them in children and young adults before. I felt as if I knew the gang personally and became invested quite quickly. I was a little put off by the excerpts from ‘The Seekers’, but came to appreciate it for what it was. As Craig Davidson writes, that small bus containing special needs children will remain “Channel one on your CB radio, number one in your hearts.”
Profile Image for Luc A. Richard.
52 reviews1 follower
September 2, 2021
Finally back to reading after taking it easy this summer.
This non-fiction about the author's year driving a bus for children with special needs was just what I needed. Beautiful book.
Profile Image for Renee.
201 reviews21 followers
February 16, 2018
If not for my beloved Canada Reads competition, I would never have picked this up. Call me cynical, but stories that are hopeful and quaint are just not my thing (I'm not sure what this says about me). The reason I love Canada Reads is that it forces me to read books that aren't in my wheelhouse, and I found myself engrossed in this memoir in spite of my initial resistance. I was surprised when I flipped the book over to see that author Craig Davidson writes horror fiction under a pseudonym that I know very well - Nick Cutter. This immediately piqued my interest!

Years ago, long before Davidson became known (as Cutter) for his horror, he was a struggling writer, down on his luck and hopelessly out of work. A flyer in his mailbox advertised a need for school bus drivers, and he applied on a whim. Before long, he found himself going through orientation and training - this section alone was great. I loved the stories about the other trainees, seasoned drivers, and his driving instructor. It was both humourous and eye opening - it's when Davidson realized the responsibility of transporting children.

He is assigned a route and discovers he will be driving the "short bus", or "busette": the special needs bus. Davidson takes us through each stop as he meets the kids that will soon become his "gang". What follows is an account of the kids that changed his life over the course of one school year. Gavin, Nadja, Jake, Vincent, and Oliver. These kids are hilarious, full of uniqueness and quirks, and dreams no different than any other kid. One of my favourite moments was Nadja's rules for the bus: no swear words allowed except for "Hell" and "schizz". Davidson and Jake "click" when they meet - they become fast friends and I love reading their story.

Of course, there are challenges. Davidson respectfully discusses instances of "tantrums", the stigma that comes from riding in a busette, and the question of self-worth that arises from being special-needs. He shares a powerful story about a time he and Jake were hanging out, and what happens when a kid in a wheelchair needs to use the bathroom. Davidson points out that we are all imperfect; how a drunk driver or a few seconds of lost oxygen in the womb can make all the difference in who we will become. This was a fantastic read, and I hope the kids from route 3077 find their way to it.
Profile Image for Ryan.
7 reviews5 followers
February 12, 2018
Two down, three to go. A light but compelling read, I wish there was a little more depth there but I think this could be eye-opening for people who haven’t met many disabled people. #canadareads2018
Profile Image for Ann-Marie.
320 reviews
February 16, 2018
"Remember, we aren't driving potatoes!"
A sweet memoir that's not saccharine, an honest story of a year of "everydays" and a depiction of strength via vulnerability. The author portrays the special needs kids on his bus with incredible likeness ... defining them by their full life, creativity, interests & personality. The kids on the bus are multi-faceted and the author challenges the reader not to define people by their disability but to see the whole person.

I loved reading about the other bus drivers too. Davidson softened their stereotypes and reminded us how important these roles are to our daily life.
Great pick for Canada Reads 2018.
Profile Image for ✿✿✿May .
658 reviews
March 21, 2018
I liked it! Of course I am biased because my son is 15-year old with autism and is non-verbal, like Gavin! And over the years our family has been on the receiving end of strange looks, wherever we go, because of my son's behaviour. The author, by spending a year with these special needs kids, discovered how "precious" these kids truly were. Well, kudos to him!
6 reviews
September 9, 2016
Had Craig Davidson worked a little harder on this book, it could have been a real force. I personally wanted to read it because I thought it would be a real, accessible way to better understand a part of our society that I don't know much about. Indeed, the best parts of the story were rooted in the gritty details of his daily interactions with the special needs students he spent so much time with. The dialogue was great, and at times I laughed out loud, was touched, and felt angry, so he was really able to portray the emotional roller coaster that was his year spent with these kids.

Where he lost me was in the generalities, and the philosophizing about how we're all just the same stardust in the end. There totally is a place for this sort of exposition when one is trying to work through how one feels about the unfairness of life, but it was repetitive and overdone. And got boring. I get that this was almost a coming-of-age story for a man trying to get his life together, but I would have preferred more "showing" and less "telling". No need to earnestly explain and rationalize every feeling you have at any moment, we can clearly observe that through the story-telling.

In an odd contrast, he included excerpts from an unpublished fictional book he wrote about superheroes based on his special needs kids, which I began flipping past because I was there to read a memoir about his actual experiences. It seemed like he had run out of content, and needed to fill pages.

In the acknowledgments, he mentioned that the original draft of the book had included material based on his interviews with medical researchers, who had helped him better understand the medical conditions of the special needs kids. I was thus dismayed to learn that the depth that I felt the book was lacking might have been there to begin with! In the end, I felt not like I was on the bus, but merely peeking in the window.
Profile Image for CynthiaA.
720 reviews28 followers
March 5, 2018
This book is about a man forced to re-evaluate the way he views himself and the world around him.

Precious Cargo is a memoir of the year Davidson spent driving school bus, the only job he could find after having a book deal fall through and his dreams of being a "real writer" seemed dashed to bits.
But rather than driving just any old bus, Davidson is assigned a route with 5 special needs students.

It isn't a woe-is-me-I'm-a-failed-author story, although he clearly felt that way at the time. It isn't a "oh-these-poor-kids-I'm-so-lucky" story, either, although he admits he felt that way sometimes too. Mostly its about how relationships we forge with people we see every day -- even if its only for a few minutes every day -- how those relationships have a lasting impact on the way we behave, the way we think about ourselves, and hopefully, the way we think about others. But Davidson paints these students so vividly, readers feel like we get to know these kids -- like WE are the ones making new friends and WE are the ones who will miss them when the school year is over. The funny part is that as much as I enjoyed reading about the year through Davidson's eyes, and I never really felt like I knew HIM any better at the end.

Still, I read the whole thing in a few sittings and enjoyed every minute of it, so I am excited to pick up other books by Craig Davidson.
Profile Image for Alexis.
Author 7 books131 followers
May 30, 2016
I absolutely loved this book. Craig Davidson is done and out. His writing career doesn't receive the accolades he's expected. He is isolated and alone in Calgary. And he takes a job driving a school bus for special needs kids for one year. Over the course of the year, the experience changes him and he learns a lot about himself and about the kids he drives on the bus.

This book was so honest, respectful, thoughtful and compassionate. I cried near the ending and I rarely cry when I'm reading. I just found this book so touching and it's really about people, and how they matter and the small, profound moments of life.

(I saw the author read from the book and he got completely choked up too)
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