Meg Landry is an unreliable narrator. She’s the central character of Deborah Schupack’s novel, The Boy on the Bus. Meg lives in rural Vermont with her asthmatic son, Charlie, and her partner, Jeff (who is mostly away working as an architect) and her 13 year old daughter, Katie, who attends boarding school.
As the novel opens, Meg is waiting for Charlie’s school bus (and Charlie’s school bus driver, Sandy, for whom Meg has ‘feelings’)But when the school bus arrives, Charlie won’t get off the bus and when Meg goes to get him she discovers that this boy is not, in fact, her son.
“Meg sat in the row in front of him, facing forward. He seemed to be a good boy – whoever he was- and eager to please.”
It is from this intriguing start that we learn the story of this family as seen through Meg’s eyes. And I would advise reading this book in as close to one sitting as you can manage because the effect of Meg’s estrangement from her partner, her ongoing battles with Katie and the emotional toll of caring for Charlie’s illness has a cumulative effect that I’m not sure would be apparent if you read the book in fits and starts.
It is only when we see Meg through the eyes of others (the town sherriff, Charlie’s doctor) that we begin to understand what is actually happening and while some reader’s might find Meg unsympathetic- I felt quite sorry for her and hopeful at the book’s end.