Review: Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell.

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there’s life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she’s ever had.

Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way.

I read an ARC that I won in a giveaway, so parts of the story and quotes may have changed in the final, published version.

Summer on the Short Bus has it all: instalove, an obnoxious main character, absentee/distant parents (to be fair to mom: she’s dead), and outdated pop culture references (Zac Efron and Hannah Montana).

I actually DNFed Summer on the Short bus about a third of the way into it. Then I read the reviews on Goodreads and decided to give it another shot. I wondered what it was that made so many people call it funny and witty and honest and real.

The answer: nothing. It may be honest and real, but it’s not funny or witty. It’s not even well-written. There’s more telling than showing, the characters are either unlikable or underdeveloped, and the ending is rushed.

Like some of the other reviewers on Goodreads who gave it low ratings, I feel like I have to explain that I understand that the book is billed being “non-P.C.” I know. It’s right there in the description. But there’s a difference between not being politically correct and being deliberately offensive. Not PC would be if Cricket admitted that being around teenagers with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy made her uncomfortable. We’re all supposed to be inclusive and tolerant not and admit to any discomfort around people who are different, right? But that’s not what Cricket did. She went way beyond that, describing them as having a “smashed-in, dog-faced” look. That’s not non-PC. That’s just an asshole.

Apparently it’s okay because it’s humorous (except that it isn’t) and because it’s said straight out that the book is not PC. I keep wondering whether if Cricket was talking the same way about African-Americans or gay people instead of the disabled, it would still be okay. Racists and bigots exist, so it would be honest and real and true to the way some people think. If Cricket’s name was Ann Coulter, would it be okay? Would people still like Cricket?

Didn’t think so.

Oh, instalove. Upon setting eyes on Quinn, Cricket is floored because he looks just like Zac Efron. Remember him? He was in High School Musical. EIGHT YEARS AGO. Instead of a mid-twenties Zac Efron, these kids would be fans of One Direction or maybe that guy who’s made more headlines for bad choices than his music in the last few months. (I dare not name him, lest a Google search lead a fleet of fans of you-know-who to my site. He and I share a birthday, by the way. March 1. But I’m older than 20.)

For some reason, even though she’s ignorant and narrow-minded, Quinn likes her back. Why? I have no idea. I don’t know why she likes him either, other than the Zac Efron thing. Cricket’s interactions with fellow counselors Colin and Aidan and campers Claire and Meredith are a lot more interesting than her scenes with Quinn. (All of those characters are more interesting than Cricket and Quinn, too.) She should have fallen for one of them. Well, not Claire or Meredith, because they’re only fourteen. Cricket claims that she and Quinn spend a lot of time together talking and getting to know each other, but most of those moments aren’t actually in the book. They should have been included. Maybe we would have gotten to know a better side of Cricket the way Quinn (I guess) did.

“I’ve had the best summer of my life and I don’t want it to end either. I think you’re amazing and I can’t get enough of you. But more than anything, it’s I love you, Cricket.”

TWO WEEKS. That’s how long Cricket’s session at Camp I Can lasted. And this scene didn’t even take place at the end of the full two weeks! It was more like a week and a half, and Cricket was acting like her ignorant, entitled self for most of the time.

This is a book, so it’s obvious that Cricket has to undergo a change in attitude. She does. She learns, and very quickly too (two weeks, remember), that people with disabilities are people, but I still don’t like her. I don’t believe she’s really changed. I believe she wants Quinn to like her, but put her back in Chicago with her friends, like that awful Katie, and let me see that she’s really changed.

Summer on the Short Bus has a cute cover and even a cute (non-PC) title. It’s unfortunate that the book isn’t more deserving of those things.

2 stars



  1. Haha! Love your honest review! I hate when I have to DNF a book I won. I feel so guilty when I don’t like it.
    Kim@Time2Read recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday: Butternut SummerMy Profile


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