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Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey
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Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,536 ratings  ·  791 reviews
Rachel Simon's sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully, despite her intellectual disability. Beth spends her days riding the buses in her Pennsylvania city. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. One day, Beth asked Rachel to accompany her on the buses for an entire year; the book is the chronic ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by Plume (first published January 1st 2002)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,536 ratings  ·  791 reviews

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Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true story about the author and her mentally handicapped sister. Good for you Beth! Interestingly enough, I liked the parts where the author wrote about growing up with her family. This was indeed a good read.
Misty Mount
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
With a special needs sister myself, I have to confess this book was a little disappointing. I wasn't very impressed with Rachel's attitude toward her sister. Maybe I just hoped she'd have the loving, unbreakable bond that I do with mine. Having my own sister, just the way she is, has made a positive impact on our family and my life and I was hoping this story would share a similar tale. It wasn't all bad though and there were definitely many parts I enjoyed.
Cynthia McCloud
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
We who grow up with family members with mental retardation have a blindspot like Rachel Simon. We think we "know" what MR is -- we live with it every day! But as Rachel discovers at the end of her journey, MR is a catchall term for the many things that can go wrong in a person's brain and development. And each person who is diagnosed with MR is still an individual with different abilities -- some skills stronger than others -- despite the label that lumps them altogether.

I regret not reading thi
Zehen Zohra
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I didnt enjoy the begining because it just started a little slow, but as I kept reading I was able to get into the book more. This book was about how Rachel dealth with her sister having a mental illness. She opens up about how they grew up and the struggles Rachel faced having to deal with her sister. Having divorced parents made the sibling come closer because they had each other. As they got older, Beth the sister moved into the city for fun she would just ride the bus and through out the boo ...more
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
My desire to review Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey persists. So does my reluctance to review it. I have not, unlike Rachel Simon, spent entire days, during the course of a year, riding city buses with a "mentally retarded" sister. But Rachel Simon's emotional responses to her sister's words, choices, and circumstances remind me of my reactions to a sister who -- from where I sit on "Mt. Judgment" -- has a social skills deficit. Hence my resistance to discussing a work that de ...more
Darcy Leech
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Riding the Bus with My Sister is an inspiring read for a fellow typical sibling of a loved one with a disability. Rachel Simon serves as an inspiration for me in that she is able to use her gifts and talents to not only interact well with her sister Beth, but also to inspire and inform others with her honest true story. Having the ability to read and write when my brother did not was sometimes a complicated feeling. Some of the guilt Rachel Simon implicitly reveals is similar to what I have felt ...more
Dawn Michelle

This is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. This is also a book that will stay on my "read" shelf here at my house because I think I will need to visit it again and again to remind myself what grace and love really look like and just how families CAN heal after all.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. It's a book about love, sisters, family and ALL the crazy that goes along with those.

Rachel and her sister Beth are amazing and the lessons that Beth teaches Rachel
3.25. Better than some memoirs. 3.25 because I am not sure that other memiors I will continue to read for US Disability Awareness Month will be like, how enlightening they too will be in turn. These are not memoirs about walking across the Australian outback or walking a US Department of Parks and Recreation long hikes. The challenge is far different.

Two sisters: Rachel who wants the Big Life (her term) and Beth who lives to ride the city buses. The verbs are telling. Rachel makes a commiittment
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
There seems to be no official confirmation available anywhere as to whether Cool Beth & Rachel's adventures occurred on SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), but due partially to my own biased desires to identify with a beautifully written memoir (I have spent more hours than I care to admit to struggling with the daily pain of SEPTA) as well as data supporting my claim (SEPTA hosting a signing event with Rachel Simon, we are sure Simon lives/attended university in the ...more
Kelly Hager
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an anniversary edition with new content. (There's an essay from Beth and some "Where Are They Now?" material, for example, as well as resources and more information.)

This is one of those books that I had always meant to read, and I was very happy that Hachette allowed me to read this for review. :)

I admire Rachel Simon so much for writing this book, because she's very up front about her feelings and the fact that she's not always a good sister to Beth. (To be fair, I think she's a better
Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would. I was a afraid it would be trite. I did get a little bit tired of the narratives about the drivers. What I liked the most were the sections on the family history. I found it really moving how she quietly told the story.

"At boarding school, I sit late at night on friends' beanbag chairs, discussing my most feared scenarios about Beth's fate, keeping my listeners awake until they exile me to my room. I have no idea what is happening- there
Sep 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
I'm only about halfway through with this book, but it is such an endearing story about a woman (writer) who takes time off from her normal schedule to literally ride the bus with her mentally challenged sister(Beth)for one year. She discovers not only Beth's challenges, but the numerous ways that she is brave, industrious, self-sufficient and "normal."

The relationship between the sister's, as well as that of Beth and the drivers, lends to a heart-warming story that is truthful and does not alwa
Apr 09, 2010 marked it as to-not-read-ever
Sep 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... Oh, what... huh?? I got to page 88 and I'm done with this thing. Boooooooooring. I guess I'm just not a fan of feel-good true stories that teach me lessons about life. After the 3rd (or so) bus driver gave his uninterrupted, full-page monologue about the life lessons he's learned and that he's passing on to Rachel Simon, I decided enough's enough. Somehow I have trouble believing that this is exactly how things happened. And I think I'm done learning lessons. 1)Be nice. 2 ...more
The first part of this really grabbed my attention. An interesting story, but, like Rachel, i found myself frustrated at times with Beth. The interplay of the present day story with the family background was interesting, though it did get painful as the family's disfunction came to the fore. As the book wore on, it became more of a catharsis for RAchel to work out her feelings about life, her relationship with Sam and her feelings about Beth. I imagine the original article that prompted the book ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, book-club
I WANT TO GET OFF THE BUS!!!! Please!! This book just went on and on and on... I get it was a memoir but I felt like this would have been better off in a journal not published. It was like, "I had a rough life...and oh my sister...feel sorry for me...but I'm okay now." It was probably cathartic for Simon but boring for me.

(I did read Simon's The Story of Beautiful Girl and it was wonderful.)
Marcia DeHaan
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This was the second time I read this wonderful book! As a parent of a grown son with developmental delays, I could relate to the gamut of feelings and the difficult decisions Rachel and her family experienced as Beth matured. This book acknowledges that the nuanced journey to self-determination is not only challenging for Beth and her parents and siblings, but also for the team of professionals who work with Beth. The bus drivers (who serve as Beth's heros and informal counselors as she choses t ...more
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about Rachel, sister of “Cool Beth”. Beth is mildly retarded. She lives on her own and lives on disability. She doesn’t have a job. She rides the local buses in her Pennsylvania city, every day. Looking for something to write about, Rachel decides to visit her sister and spend a day with her. This leads to an article in the newspaper. The experience has surprised Rachel and it has sparked a new relationship with Beth. So, Rachel decides to “Ride the bus with her sister” and she d ...more
This story was everything I expected based on the title and summary on the back cover, but it was also more than expected. The relationship, past and present, between sisters Rachel and Beth, was really the main story. Beth's developmental disabilities make her unique -- at times very obsessive, loud in appearance and speech, illogical, obstinant, unaware of herself, and childish. Rachel, 11 months older, is not disabled in the ways that Beth is, but she is depressed and has been depressed for a ...more
I am not sure what I expected from this book. I was looking for a different title at my library and this caught my eye. It seemed interesting, so I brought it home. Interesting is a good word for this memoir.

I truly thought it would be about Simon and her sister as their relationship was in 2002. What I did not realize, but probably should was that their story was not that simple. Simon had issues with her family, especially her mother, that she needed to deal with. so that became part of her ta
Leanne Sarubbi
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2010
Although it was a nice story, this book was a disappointment. I didn't feel emotionally attached to the characters, and the writing felt sort of flat. And while I'm sure for the sake of the book, the author didn't write about the hours and hours in which nothing profound was said by the bus drivers, it just seemed odd and unrealistic that the drivers would be so philosophical and spiritual and stuff every time they opened their mouths. It was quite predictible, too, and I was quite bored halfway ...more
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was ok

Some good parts, but mostly I didn't care much for the author. For some reason I just couldn't relate to her. I was waiting for some grand realizations and really deep thoughts on having a sibling with a disability, but, aside from a few hints, this book failed to give it. Also, it was tied up much too neatly and perfectly at the end, which drives me crazy.

Worth reading, I guess, but if you're looking for a life-changing book on disability issues, this isn't it.
Shannon Dyer
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Round up to 4.5 stars. Very honest and poignant. I’m so glad I decided to reread it.
Valerie Campbell Ackroyd
Thoughtful book about family relationships

The author has a sister, close in age, who has developmental disabilities. What used to be described as mental retardation. It wasn’t until both were in their late 30s and she committed to spend a year riding the buses in her sister’s city that Rachel (author) finally came to understand Beth, her sister: Beth’s reality, her limitations but also what Beth is capable of. With flashback descriptions of the family they grew up in, parents who were far from p
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Assolutamente consigliato a chi lavora nel campo della durabilità, che vive e condivide la vita con persone non neurotipiche! Bello e decisamente carico di verità ed umanità tutte le sue implicazioni.
Sara Smith
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is strong in a quiet way. Maybe those that mainstream society thinks are "less than" actually do know the keys to being a better human being.
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actually a 4 1/2 . A delightful book that is well written. Interesting insights into those with an intellectual disability. Also makes you take a look at yourself and your own issues.
Nicole Smith
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir which the author has written about a year she committed to accompany her sister who has an intellectually disability in an attempt to understand her world and her experiences on her terms. The author exposes her own emotional struggles with accepting her sister, and reveals her inner most thoughts feeling and reactions in a very courageous way. Through her journey she learns about the rights of persons with disabilities to self-determination, and to accept her sister for who she ...more
Cherie Palmer
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well told story of what it is like to have a mentally disabled member of the family. It is told with the honesty and understanding that only a person who had been there could have had.
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Biography 1 1 Mar 20, 2019 07:01PM  
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Rachel Simon is the author of six books.

The Story of Beautiful Girl
The House On Teacher's Lane
Riding The Bus With My Sister
The Writer's Survival Guide
The Magic Touch
Little Nightmares Little Dreams

In 2005, Hallmark Hall of Fame adapted Riding The Bus With My Sister for a film by the same name. It starred Rosie O'Donnell as Rachel's sister Beth and Andie MacDowell as Rachel, and it was directed by A
“Happiness, I have grasped, is a destination, like strawberry Fields. Once you find the way in, there you are, and you'll never feel low again.” 7 likes
“Maybe we are all Beths, boarding other people's life journeys, or letting them hop aboard ours. For a while we ride together. A few minutes, a few miles. Companions on the road, sharing our air and our view, our feet swaying to the same beat. Then you get off at your stop, or I get off at mine. Unless we decide to stay on longer together.
p 251”
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