Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, by Joyce Magnin

Harriet Beamer is a spunky 70-something widow who collects salt-and-pepper shakers and likes to make bets. Unfortunately, the bet she loses with her daughter-in-law, Prudence, results in a major life change! In Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, Harriet has been getting pressure from her son and daughter-in-law to move out to California from her home in Philadelphia. Harriet insists that she’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself -- until she falls. Prudence bets Harriet that if her ankle is broken, she’ll move. If it’s not, Harriet stays home. Harriet loses the bet. But she isn’t going to give in without doing things her way! She vows to get to California by traveling across the country using only public transportation. The results are hilarious (and inspirational, too)!

Harriet ships all but one suitcase to California, purchases a great pair of red Converse high-tops, and sets off on her journey. One of her first goals is to visit the salt-and-pepper shaker museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee! Along the way, Harriet meets plenty of interesting people and finds all kinds of ways to travel, even in a motorcycle sidecar! Meanwhile, she ships salt-and-pepper shakers from all the places she’s seen out to her son in California. I probably don’t have to mention that Harriet finds a lot more than California on her solo journey as she learns a lot about herself and what life still has to offer her. Fortunately, we get to go along on the ride with Harriet as she pens her observations about the places she stays, the people she meets, and the quandaries she encounters.

I really loved Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, and I hope that author Joyce Magnin plans more books about the wonderful adventures of Harriet Beamer! You can read “Harriet’s blog” at


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