‘Precious Cargo’ by Craig Davidson

With tickets already secured for the second day of Canada Reads 2018, I want to try to read as many books on the short-list as possible before March! This year’s theme is: One Book to Open Eyes.

Precious Cargo is a memoir of a young man’s temporary job as a bus driver for special needs kids. Davidson’s book is inspirational and funny. He is honest about his initial fear at spending so much time with a bus full of students with so many physical and emotional challenges, and admits he took the job just because he needed the money. But Davidson’s journey ended up being much more significant than the drive to school and back. Those kids taught him about ‘self-acceptance’, a lesson he needed to learn to have the courage to be a writer after all.

I applaud this story because our society needs to support those who have special needs and not to stigmatize them.  So many amazing people and their families achieve great things against the odds despite a special need of some kind. And yet those kids want to be treated just like any other kid.

Although I appreciated Davidson’s journey and commend his compassionate approach to his job and the entertaining way he tells us about his year on the bus, what I did find disappointing was not hearing from the kids themselves. It was a story about them, not from them. So even though I struggled a bit with the book being more Davidson’s journey than the kids’ journey, I’m glad those with special needs will have a voice at the Canada Reads 2018 table. Let Canada’s eyes be opened to this very important topic and our behaviour as a society. Let acceptance and support be what opens our eyes!

One response to “‘Precious Cargo’ by Craig Davidson

  1. Ian Brown of the Globe and Mail, himself a parent of a disabled son, praised this book for providing a rare, fair portrait of kids with mental and physical disabilities. I felt the author was rather self-absorbed (which he admitted, I suppose) and, at times, self-congratulatory. The author captures quite a bit of dialogue with the kids, but agreed that I’d like to hear more from the children themselves. Yes to Canada Reads putting the spotlight on this book. But, if this is the best we can do to provide voice to kids with mental disabilities, I’m feeling a bit sad today.

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