Monday, July 2, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus - by Joyce Magnin

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, by Joyce Magnin, tells the story of Harriet Beamer, a woman who is known for making random bets, collecting salt and pepper shakers, and baking cookies.  Not a woman known for taking risks and setting off on adventures.  Until, one of those random bets sees her giving up her house and moving across the country to live with her son and daughter-in-law.  Rather than do it the quick and easy way, Harriet decides to take the opportunity to do something she has never done.  She sets off on her trip, not by plane, but by public transportation, vowing to use as many local forms of transportation that she can, and collecting as many salt and pepper shakers as she can to add to her collection.

I wanted to like this book.  I loved the idea of Harriet's adventure, and I loved the picture of her in her bright red sneakers.  However, the story itself just didn't ring true, and was not well-written.  There was no real mention of Harriet having money, yet she never balked at expenditures like buying a brand new Droid phone, or buying clothing in a train station, or staying at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.  Eventually, she told a pair of strangers that she was a "wealthy widow," which also seemed odd - would a 72-year old advertise to people she doesn't know that she is rich?  Of course, it was just fodder for the storyline for those same strangers to try to rob her.

Details in a book are important to me.  Not that I like long descriptions of things, but I do like consistency in the details.  So it bothers me when a character takes note of seatmate's "Hershey bar-colored eyes," and then turns to said seatmate and tells her that she has the "bluest, sweetest, eyes" she's ever seen.  I don't know about you, but where I come from (only 30 minutes from the actual aforementioned Hershey), their chocolate bars don't tend to be blue.  There are several other instances of text that escaped an editor's notice, or perhaps suffered from a re-write that didn't get checked - saying "good afternoon," when it's after midnight, or talking about the time differences across the country incorrectly.

Although the story really is a cute one, the inconsistent details and the pacing of the travel really detracted from the enjoyment of the book.  It looks like it is book one in a series, and I have to say that I probably won't be watching for book number two.

I received a digital version of this book for free from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

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