“Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle—and her heart—are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture—God has a different plan.”
My take: I’m a tough issue, yank my heart out, literary type of book lover, so I wasn’t sure I would like this lighter, more straightforward type of read. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is simply written, with almost a chapter book for adults feel to it which I found delightfully unique and fun. The journey that main character, Harriet Beamer, takes is simple and profound. She’s spent her seventy some years in relative comfort and safety, but when her life begins flashing before her eyes and she realizes she’s entering the last phase of life (moving in with her adult children for her “safety”), she makes a bold move to have that one last adventure.
One of the criteria I use to judge whether or not I like a book is if it changes me. About fifty pages into this one, that happened. Harriet’s journey across the country using only public transportation reminded me that life was not passing me by. If I wanted to “ride the bus”, the hour was now. It also reminded me that what I consider a great adventure doesn’t have to impress or please anyone but me.
I recommend Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus for women 30-100. There are plenty of sprinkles of grace and humor and more than one nice surprise. I give it two thumbs up!