Book Review / The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck

There’s something so entertaining to me about a bunch of strangers, each coming from different walks of life, who become stuck on a bus together and are forced to coincide despite their desire to be absolutely anywhere else. But it has to be written with distinct characters or it doesn’t work. The Wayward Bus is set along a fictional stretch of land in California. The story begins in a lunchroom at a crossroads bus station and eventually moves to a Greyhound bus. We meet nearly a dozen different characters and nosedive into their personalities, flaws, and motives. Even with few changes in setting the scenes are varied enough to set each one apart. The characters drive this novel with their personalities and their interactions with one another. There are some glimpses of other Steinbeck works here. The writing is always smooth as silk when it comes to Johnny Steins which is nothing new. He simultaneously brings out the humor in the characters while maintaining a serious portrayal of life as seen in Cannery Row or Tortilla Flat, but some of the observations of the road and the surrounding land gave me major flashbacks to Grapes of Wrath. It goes without saying this one is much lighter than Grapes of Wrath. Not to say there aren’t some deep questions proposed in this one. I really enjoyed reading about all of the character’s different approaches to life, what they considered important, and how many of their problems were hidden from the surface. They put on a show to impress those around them or hide things from the ones closest to them. If you want to read a book in which nothing really happens other than a bus ride gone awry than this one is a must.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Page Count: 272

Date Finished: April 14, 2018

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