In 2008, author Craig Davidson responded to a flyer he came across that was asking for school bus drivers. That was his first step to a year-long experience that was life-changing and eye-opening, as he drove a handful of kids with special needs back and forth to school on Bus 3077. This book is Craig’s reflection on his experiences over that year. It also weaves in parts of a fictional unpublished novel about a group of superhero types with animal names that Craig was working on while driving the bus. The memoir showcases Craig’s thought processes and ideas about disability that were in constant flux during his experience and lets us see how it may have influenced his fictional writing.
Precious Cargo: My Year Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077 is by Canadian author Craig Davidson. It is a literary memoir that was published in April 2016.
First off, if you don’t already know – I love memoirs. I also rode on a school bus for the majority of my elementary and high school years so I thought it would be interesting to be able to get inside of the mind of a school bus driver. Generally, I don’t remind myself of plot synopsis or read the book jacket summary before I dive into a book, so I wasn’t aware until I started reading that the author drove a group of special needs children students on his bus. But this only made the book more enlightening to me as I read it. As well, I just finished another one of the author’s books, Saturday Night Ghost Club, so I thought since this had been on my TBR for a while that I’d check it out on audio since it was available.
I was very engaged in this book while I was reading. I liked how the author showcased each student on his bus as it allowed me as a reader to get to know them individually. Each young person is endearing and unique. They all have special needs ranging from non-verbal autism, to ADHD, to cerebral palsy. There aren’t many books in the memoir genre that I have come across that allow a reader to gain insight and understanding into so many different disabilities and disorders at one time. I appreciated that the author shared his story too and told us what events in his life led him to drive school bus 3077 for a year. I think this offers a back story to the reader that is important in understanding his experience. At first, I didn’t really understand why he was including fictional excerpts of an unpublished novel. With some research, I learned that he was writing this story during the course of his year driving the bus. It actually signifies the power that the misunderstood in our society can have to affect and change the minds of those they come into contact with. Simply put, I think the novel acts as a metaphor for the author’s experience driving the bus for the year.
I do wish there would have been more to the book! It felt so short and I would have loved for the author to share more anecdotes and stories from his day to day experiences. To me, it felt like there may have been bits left out. I also would have liked the author to share a bit more about how his life changed afterward. Did his views and attitudes about special needs children change? If so, how? Obviously, we know he was finally able to make it as an author, but how long after he was a school bus driver did it take, and what ignited his writing fire again? During this year, he was a single bachelor. Did that change? I have questions!
My Rating: (4 / 5) All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I just wish it had been longer and included more details and stories about his experiences!
I’d Recommend This Book If:
- you enjoy reading or listening to non-fiction memoirs
- you are interested in Canadian works. Craig Davidson has written a few other fictional books that you can check out as well.
- you have experience riding a school bus as a kid
- and/or you have an interest in learning about special needs kids, disabilities, disorders, and the societal opinions and constructions around them