I've finished the first of my library books. 250 pages down. One bazillion to go! I present to you my first selection:
The Wayward Bus
by John Steinbeck
I loved this book. Around midnight last night, I was torn between reading the last few chapters despite my 6 a.m. alarm that was set or saving a treat for myself in the morning. I ended up saving the book as a treat, but I had trouble falling asleep with the characters still dancing in my head.
The book starts slowly and builds as the characters are more fully drawn out. The plot of the story is simple on the outside, but infinetely complex as you look inside each character. I was glad that I had read the first few pages of the introduction to this book (a practice I almost universally avoid due to plot spoilers) because John Steinbeck's enthusiasm for this novel, as quoted in the introduction, carried me through the first slow-moving chapters.
When the novel finished, I found myself with a hundred questions about what would happen to each character as the bus ride (and book) concluded. In that sense, the ending was frustrating and unfulfilling. However, it is proof positive to me that the book is the best sort: it pulled me into its universe and made me actually care what was happening.
The introduction to the book discussed the allegorical nature of the characters and storyline. While some of that seemed a bit forced to me, I did recognize the importance of what Steinbeck was really saying. The book is about human nature. It is about people and interactions and the way our lives are intertwined.
What I particularly loved about this novel was the way in which an unlikely group of people came together first with distaste and distrust and learned to work together, be curious about each other and even love each other. The circumstances of the bus ride forced them each out of their comfort zone and into a foreign world.
One would like to say they each became more tolerant because of the journey, but that didn't seem to be true. However, shared experiences and forced discomfort left an impression on each of them and gave them the great gift of teaching them all a little about themselves.