Despite believable characters, a plausible plot, keen observation, and superb writing by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, The Wayward Bus is a totally unappealing novel.John Steinbeck’s novel is about a group of people who have nothing in common, seemingly, except that they are on the same bus, stuck in the mud on a rarely used road in the central California mountains. Although their backgrounds and goals are quite different, it turns out that they do something else in common: Each is insistent on getting his or her own way.
It’s not the bus that’s wayward; it’s the passengers.
Steinbeck gives the reader a glimpse of the forces that that have shaped each character. Yet it’s clear they are what they are because of the choices they made.
Even though we may understand these people, maybe feel a pang of pity for them, we can’t like them. Because Steinbeck describes them so well, readers are left with the queasy feeling that there are millions of people in the world just like these characters.
That is a very depressing thought.
Don’t feel bad if you miss The Wayward Bus.
You’ll feel worse if you read it.The Wayward Bus By John Steinbeck Viking Press, 1947 312 pages #6 Bestseller for 1947 My Grade: B