Thursday, April 26, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin - Review

Magnin, Joyce. Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus. Zondervan, 2012. $14.99. 320p. 9780310333555
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 2/5

Every now and again we look up and wonder, what’s it all for? What is the purpose of my life? Well, in Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus, Harriet sets out to discover just that. 72 year old Harriet is a widow who lives alone in Bryn Mawr, PA.  When her son Henry and his wife Prudence discover that Harriet has fallen and can’t get up, they make a bet that if Harriet has broken her foot in the fall,, she has to come live with them. Clear across the country in Grass Valley, CA.  Give up the house her late husband built. Give up the friends she’s made. Give up her independence.  This, she does not want to do. But, the foot is broken. And Harriet is a bet-honorer.  

Harriet finds a buyer for the house, packs up her stuff, ships her dog Humphrey on ahead, and decides the only way she is going to California, is in her own way, in her own time. She's going to travel across the country using public transportation.

This adult road trip was not fun as it could be.  Harriet gets a Droid (just one of many name drops) and uses it to find hotels and transportation as she travels across country and she never once can't find a place to stay, no matter how last minute she calls.  She has a few small mishaps along the way – sometimes public transportation doesn’t run where she needs it and a couple attempt to steal her credit card – but she pretty much makes it all the way across the country no problem. Along the way she ships ahead the salt and pepper shakers that she collects. Meanwhile, Henry and Prudence, the son and daughter-in-law, face their own struggles. Henry has lost his writing mojo and Prudence is overworked. These problems too are easily overcome.

Along the way, I didn’t get a sense of the places Harriet visited or even Harriet herself.  She was your stereotypical spunky near-octogenarian, ala Betty White, but not near as funny. She spends such a little bit of time in each location that everything becomes a blur, both for Harriet and the reader.  The constant references to Amelia, the GPS in her phone, and YouTube, where a video of Harriet hitting a “hoodlum” with her tote bag has been uploaded, become tiresome instead of cute and affecting.  I really just wanted her to make it to Grass Valley already. Henry and Prudence are their own brand of bland. Nothing happened to reveal their characteristics so I had no idea what to expect from them and no emotional investment.

 I was, at first, interested in knowing if you could actually take public transportation across the country.  I was disappointed when Harriet suffered a heart attack before she could make the final leg of her trip. It was a baseless plot mover that led to me caring not caring whether she could make it or not.

I would give Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin a 2.  If I searched really hard, I could pass this along.

You might think differently,
Over on Goodreads - Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus - has a 4/5 stars as of 4/25/12.  If you think you might like this one, leave me an email address in the comments and I'll pass the ARC along. US Only.

Take a quick stop at Harriet's Blog to see her dog Humphrey and hear about her travels!

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