Somebody on This Bus is Going to Be Famous! by J.B. Cheaney (J Mystery)

Somebody on This Bus is Going to Be Famous!

J.B. Cheaney (J Mystery)

Somebody knows more than he or she should. That’s the link they’re missing, but they may have a way to find it.

The elementary school bus that serves Hidden Acres Subdivision has a motley assortment of students: the celebrity, bully, talker, innovator, the brain, adapter, jock, pleaser, and the new kid. Today was the start of the school year, but their driver took an expected turn onto Farm Road 152 and pulled alongside an empty bench. No one was waiting and no one boarded, yet day after day the bus took this same route to the same empty bench. And then things began appearing at the stop. Things that held a specific connection to certain kids on the bus. As questions about the mysterious stop lead to events that happened many years ago, unlikely alliances form to reveal answers that will surprise everyone…and make somebody on the bus famous.

Not since Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game have I taken so many notes on a book (ten journal pages in case you’re wondering). With nine central characters and story lines to keep track of, not including the bus driver, it’s a lot to keep straight and remember. Luckily, Cheaney does an excellent job of giving each character their turn in the spotlight as we are introduced to their homelife and get to understand a little about what makes them tick. What the author eventually shows us is that you can’t always judge a book by its cover as these multi-dimensional characters are dealing with some very complex and complicated family issues—most of which seem to stem from absentee, apathetic, or annoying fathers. This book did have a surprising amount of daddy issues, although a lot of the moms don’t come across much better.

This book has a recommended reading age of 10 to 13 years, which is appropriate for the content. There are multiple innuendos regarding profanity; however, one character’s grandparent is suffering from dementia so some statements made are mildly lewd and inappropriate. While the subject matter is sobering, Cheaney handles it compassionately and realistically. And although there are a lot of moving parts to this story, it is an exhilarating ride that really picks up speed during the last fifty pages where all the dots begin to connect. Add to that a harrowing bus accident (which is where our story began) and you have non-stop action and suspense. The only complaint I had is at the very end of the book, the author mentions a bonus chapter and provides two different URLs to visit in order to see what happened to our gang of nine. When I accessed the links (I like closure), neither worked so let this be a warning to all authors: forego the marketing gimmicks and just put whatever you have to say in print. Technology is a fickle beast.

American television host and author Fred Rogers once said, “Fame is a four-letter word; and like tape or zoom or face or pain or life or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it.” And although I won’t ever know what came next for the celebrity, bully, talker, innovator, the brain, adapter, jock, pleaser, and the new kid, I’d like to think that they each realized their own value and worth because to me that’s much better than being famous.  

Rating: 5/5

* Book cover image attributed to:

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Author: The Dusty Jacket

We review older books for ages 7 and up in a wide range of genres. We take great pride and joy in bringing back old titles so that you can make new memories because anytime is a good time to dust off a new favorite. Keep reading and follow us on Instagram @tdjreviews

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