*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Precious Cargo
Author: Craig Davidson
Publisher: April 12, 2016
Publication Date: Knopf Canada
Synopsis from Goodreads:
One morning in 2008, desperate and impoverished and living in a one-room basement apartment while trying unsuccessfully to write, Davidson plucked a flyer out of his mailbox that read, “Bus Drivers Wanted.” That was the first step towards an unlikely new career: driving a school bus full of special-needs kids for a year. Armed only with a sense of humour akin to that of his charges, a creative approach to the challenge of driving a large, awkward vehicle while corralling a rowdy gang of kids, and surprising but unsentimental reserves of empathy, Davidson takes us along for the ride. He shows us how his evolving relationship with the kids on that bus, each of them struggling physically as well as emotionally and socially, slowly but surely changed his life along with the lives of the “precious cargo” in his care. This is the extraordinary story of that year and those relationships. It is also a moving, important and universal story about how we see and treat people with special needs in our society.
I’ve been finding myself reading more about Craig Davidson’s works in the past few years, and I’ve been curious about nearly every title. Precious Cargo is an especially heart-warming memoir that shows tremendous growth on the part of the author over the course of the year that this book encompasses. His story is much more fun than I expected and I was pleasantly surprised by his smile-worthy stories and the hilarious children that he encountered throughout his year as a bus driver.
Davidson is in low spirits in the beginning. He is not succeeding as a writer, he can’t get or hold a job, and he’s not sure if he’ll continue to even be able to eat. Luck is on his side one day when he happens upon an ad for Bus Drivers Wanted. He is hired almost immediately and begins the most life-changing year of his life until that point. He drives a short, yellow school bus. He has 6 students on his bus each with a different disability. Although at first apprehensive, Craig comes to love Bus 3077 and the kids he drives to and from school every day. They teach him to love life and the simple pleasures again. He forms friendships with them and they help to bring a smile to his face. He becomes fiercely protective of the bus and the glorious children that he drives.
It’s a sweet story and it will most definitely make you smile. Craig’s narration is so joyful and hilarious. Even in times of struggle, he still managed to make him laugh. I certainly developed a fondness for him and his loyalty and protectiveness of his bus, especially when he camps out overnight in the freezing cold to protect his bus from vandals. Craig learns to control his temper, he learns devotion and loyalty, he learns to understand and be empathetic. His journey is great and he comes so far over the course of this book. It’s a fantastic insight into what started out as a particularly trying time in his life.