It’s with a touch of sadness I write this book review for Last Bus to Wisdom, the latest and final book published by Ivan Doig. Sadly, he passed away earlier this year, leaving behind a stellar body of literary work, much of it inspired by his beloved home state of Montana. He has become a favorite author of mine since discovering him a few years ago. I still haven’t read all his books, but I’m working on it.
This book is a coming-of-age story centered around eleven year-old Donal Cameron whose parents were tragically killed in an automobile accident. Donal’s grandmother is his guardian and together they’ve made a life on a Montana sheep ranch where she works as a cook. Donal’s world is rocked when Gram requires surgery and must send him away to Wisconsin to stay with her sister and her husband.
She places him on the “dog bus” and sends him off to an uncertain world. The bus ride across the prairies is just the beginning of his adventures, however. On his own, Donal must fend for himself until he reaches Wisconsin. Donal is fond of Gram, but his Aunt Kate is another story altogether – the two simply do not get along.
Donal befriends her husband Herman (Herman the German) who barely tolerates Kate himself. It’s a constant clash of wills, and when Kate decides it just won’t work out, Donal and Herman set out on an adventure of their own – oh the places they will go!
The book is reminiscent of Doig’s recent trilogy (reviewed here, here and here LINKS) with a full cast of characters – some serious, some quirky, but all part of a sweet story about growing up without parents and the uncertainty as to whether Gram will be around much longer to care for Donal.
Without giving too much more of the story away, suffice it to say the book has a satisfying ending, but again with a touch of sadness for me personally. I couldn’t help but think perhaps another trilogy had been planned. Alas, there won’t be more from this great author known as the dean of Western writers. R.I.P. Ivan Doig (1939-2015).
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2015.