Book Review: Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus

16 Mar

13100288Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle—and her heart—are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture—God has a different plan.


joyce-magninJoyce Magnin is the author of five novels, including the popular Bright’s Pond series and the 2011 middle grade novel Carrying Mason. She is also a frequent speaker and writing instructor. Magnin lives with her son in Pennsylvania. Magnin’s websites are or She is also on Twitter (handle: @joycemagnin) and Facebook at (JoyceMagnin).


My Impressions:

Joyce Magnin’s books are always good for a good chuckle or belly laugh. Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus is no exception. When Harriet loses a bet to her daughter-in-law and is forced to move from her home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to Grass Valley, California, she decides that she needs to have some purpose in her life and begins with a cross country trip that involves traveling on public transportation. With the exception of a planned visit to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Harriet’s itinerary is based on whim and Amelia, her phone’s GPS. Along the way, Harriet meets people that help her out and many she helps out in return. A journey of discovering what God’s pleasure is all about, Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus is a thoroughly satisfying jaunt.

Harriet is seventy-two years old and has never really been anywhere. Her salt and pepper shaker collection consists of finds from other people’s travels. Her idea of traveling across the country on public transportation is met with enthusiasm from her best friend and those she meets along the way, and concern from her son Henry, who spends the time awaiting his mother’s arrival with a little discovery of his own. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and not a little bit of envy at the inventive ways Harriet travels and the things she experiences. Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus is inventive, the characters fun and bit a quirky and the trip altogether enjoyable.


Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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