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The Boy on the Bus: A Novel
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The Boy on the Bus: A Novel

2.13  ·  Rating details ·  272 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Meg Landry expected it to be a day like any other -- her asthmatic eight-year-old son would step off the bus, home from school. But on this day, the boy on the bus is not Meg's son -- or at least doesn't appear to be. This new boy shares Charlie's copper hair, tea-brown eyes, and slight frame. But there is something profoundly, if indefinably, different about him. He has a ...more
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published (first published March 17th 2003)
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Brie Klein-fowler
Aug 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You know that feeling that you get at the end of an M Night Shymalan movie that asks all sorts of cool questions, has freaky plot twists, and seems like it's leading somewhere shocking, but ends with absolutely no answers to anything? That's what it's like to read this book. I feel like the author could have taken this concept, a stranger that looks exactly like your son but is a, to so many interesting places. I thought of at least five (alien, android, Changeling-esque lying orpha ...more
Tristan MacAvery
Sep 13, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Deborah Schupack's first effort, the novel The Boy on the Bus, is one of those painfully self-indulgent and pointless "artistic works" which plague the bookshelves from time to time. Beginning with an interesting premise -- a mother's creeping certainty that this boy on the afternoon school bus is a close approximation of, but is not truly, her son -- Schupack takes us on a 215 page slog through a quagmire of psychological pretension which ultimately, as Shakespeare put it, signifies nothing.
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book is interesting - a boy gets off the bus, and his mother believes that it isn't him. Neat! But then it becomes a very tedious exploration of the mother's very tedious life. Whoopee, she's having a midlife crisis that is exacerbated by a distant partner and bratty teenage daughter. I spent most of the book wishing she'd get a hobby or a job or a red sports car.

I'm sure there are lots of metaphors and whatnot buried in this book, but the drudgery of this upper-middle-class
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The book jacket blurb was way more intriguing than the actual book.
Meg Landry is an unreliable narrator. She’s the central character of Deborah Schupack’s novel, The Boy on the Bus. Meg lives in rural Vermont with her asthmatic son, Charlie, and her partner, Jeff (who is mostly away working as an architect) and her 13 year old daughter, Katie, who attends boarding school.

As the novel opens, Meg is waiting for Charlie’s school bus (and Charlie’s school bus driver, Sandy, for whom Meg has ‘feelings’). But when the school bus arrives, Charlie won’t get off the bus
Mar 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book left me so perplexed and really wondering where my time went.

The course of the book seems to take place in the span of 2 days, with a little extra thrown on. I couldn't figure out if the boy was truly different or if the mom was suffering from some kind of mental illness (or at least self illness).

I never connected with the characters, never felt an affinity for anyone. I think I connected more with the goose than anything, kind of wishing I could fly away. Maybe I missed something. Ma
| J
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone with extra time to give way to no answers
Yes, it may appear to be a waste of time. The end reveals no wrap to the mystery... or does it?
The answer is probably found, not so absolute, in the journey.

All professional reviews I've read make this novel out to be something much more magical than it was for me. The concept, if it is indeed to discover oneself and to recognize those you love must be 're-discovered' all the time, isn't a new one. In my opinion, 'the mystery' at hand was only used to coax us in, to reiterate an already taught
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, this was weird.

The bus comes to their house but Charlie doesn't get off. The mother gets on the bus to see why. She sees a boys that looks a lot like her son but is not her son. She doesn't say this out loud but remains on the bus with the boy for hours.

The sheriff comes and gets both the mother and son (boy) off the bus and has the father called who happens to be working in Canada.

The father comes home and isn't sure about the boy either. But he has been gone for months. They get the o
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy reading this book about a family unraveling, it seems, because they cannot deal with their young son's asthma--the father and daughter become unavailable physically and the mother, though present physically, becomes unavailable emotionally. The author has an impressive command of the language (which is what kept me reading), but the whole thing was utterly depressing. (I have a headache as I type.) If anyone needs to write a critical literary analysis using the psychological appr ...more
Betty Marshall
Amazing story of fantasy---what would you do if you were in the situation this mother was in finding a child not her own on the school bus in place of her son. A great read with the author leading the reader to come to their own conclusions about what was happening...was the mother going mad....was the child sickly....was living alone with her family driving this mother to live in a fantasy world?
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Casey...i didn't get it!!! hurry up and read it so we can discuss!!! ARG
Jamie Marfurt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Klein
The boy that Meg put on the school bus this Vermont morning was her asthmatic 8-year-old son, Charlie. The boy who comes home in the afternoon is not. Sure, he almost looks like Charlie, almost acts like Charlie, almost knows the things Charlie should know, but not quite. As Meg sits on the bus studying this boy, the bus driver, Sandy, tells her, "We looked back out the window and there you were, reappearing at the front door when you had been standing there only a second ago." The sheriff arriv ...more
Jan 13, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
One afternoon, Vermont housewife Meg discovers that the boy on the school bus outside her door is almost, but not quite, her eight-year-old son, Charlie. It's a typical X-Filesscenario, but in the hands of first-time novelist Schupack it becomes an acute psychological study of alienated ex-urban family life. Meg's panic recalls her aloof, restless husband from his job in Canada and her bratty, rebellious teenage daughter from boarding school, but neither they nor the local sheriff nor the family ...more
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Linder
Dec 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was disturbed by this book and disliked the lack of an ending. It was disturbing, the concept of one's child going missing and another 8 year old (or perhaps slightly older) child replacing him. All the questions about his family recognizing him or not. The mother perhaps suffering from mental illness, unable to recognize her child and convinced he is not her child was distasteful to me. The woman seemed obsessive in the reflections on parenting her asthmatic child. She sounded overprotective ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Emi by: Betty Marshall
Shelves: fiction, haunting, euro
Meg is physically and mentally exhausted. She's a stay-at-home mom to 8 year old Charlie with chronic asthma. One day she goes to meet his school bus and he's not on it. Instead, there's a slightly different red-headed kid, a bit bigger than Charlie, and wearing an argyle sweater she doesn't recognize. It takes her so long to decide what to do, the sheriff is called in, who then notifies Charlie's father who has been away on business for months. When Jeff returns home he fetches teenage angsty d ...more
Jun 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-fic, sold, not-for-me
I didn't really care much for this book at all. The premise captured my interest - that of a woman who failed to recognize her own son getting off the school bus - but ultimately, the plot failed to maintain my curiosity. Perhaps its only saving grace was its length - it was a very short novel - more of a novella than a novel, really. The narrator's flights of fancy became dull and rather cliche after the first fifty pages. The stylized writing was solid, but the lack of real characters and an a ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting but puzzling book. The book starts with a mother going to the bus to pick up her son after school, she see's him and is sure it isn't him. The book proceeds with her contacting the sheriff, neighbors, recalls her husband from Canada and retrieves her daughter from a private school. The book really left me in a quandry, is the mother mentally disturbed, is everybody else, or is everybody just psychotic. The bulk of the book has the mother totally fighting with her son and daughter ...more
Erin Sterling
3.5. A changeling story without any sort of fantasy, The Boy on the Bus is a really bizarre book. After reading it, I realized why Nancy Pearl recommended it for book clubs because I wanted to discuss the book with other people. A mother waiting for her 8-year-old asthmatic son to come home from school discovers a different boy--one that looks like her son and talks like her son, but is slightly different. A psychological drama where you're never sure what's going on. The style reminds me a litt ...more
Dec 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for something different
Shelves: fiction
I really wasn't sure what to make of this book. It looked interesting from the book description, but it wasn't quite what I thought it would be. I was expecting some sort of big revelation, but there wasn't one. No big climax, just clues along the way that added up to - not as much as I thought it would. Still, it was a compelling read in an odd sort of way.

Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this on my mother-in-law's shelf and borrowed it for airplane reading. The premise was very interesting, and there was some good psychological insight about being a mom, a wife, a family... but this book was utterly disappointing. I'm ok with open-ended endings, but she dropped the ball here.
This was recommended for book discussion groups by Nancy Pearl on her blog. I now understand why. There's more that you DON'T know at the end of the book than you did when you started--more questions than answers. A book discussion group could go on for DAYS! Will be very unsatisfying for those readers who want everything spelled out for them.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Started reading, felt that the language was self-indulgent and never really said anything. Skipped to the end, but that didn't make sense; skimmed the middle, same result. I am quite glad that I decided not to waste my time trying to read the whole thing- I could see the book going nowhere. The other reviews will confirm my statements.
Jan 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book, but I found it very frustrating. The perspective is very different - the boy that comes home on the school bus one day is not the same boy that had left in the morning. He looks the same, but his mother is convinced that it isn't the same boy. I don't know if it is just me, but this is one of those books that I didn't quite 'get'.
This book is stupid and hard to understand. It doesn't make any sense! Although it's a quick read, I'm upset that I actually stayed with it! It's the only book I actually wanted to throw away and not put in the book case. I'll donate this to a charity. They'll probably throw it away.
Wayne Keith
Dec 27, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You know the old saying about an infinite number of monkeys banging on an infinite number of typewriters? Well, one of them didn't turn out to be a Shakespeare novel, the monkey pounded out this book!
Betsy Murphy
Jul 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this and I was left very disappointing I think it should have been a bit more - aka its not a full story left too many questions . So I didn't like this . I think Charlie's Mom should dump his dad stat .
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a novel with a tidy ending, this one is not for you. It's premise is intriguing, but I found the ending unsatisfying. There are some interesting bits where the mother considers her children in terms not usually spoken aloud that might interest the reader.
Matthew Wayne
Feb 19, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Literally one of the worst, most confusing books i've ever read. There is no resolution and I don't even know if the author knows what happened. The premise is so promising but the execution just wasn't there, I feel.
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