THE WHITE BUS by Ken Adler


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A superior coming-of-age novel about a white San Francisco boy from a well-to-do family who decides to brave the perils of a tough public school. Fifteen-year-old Ira Allen is a bit of a know-it-all and a bit of a smart-aleck, but his heart is sure in the right place: he defies his wealthy, Bank of America vice-president Dad and insists on being bused to Martin Luther King High School, down in the ""flats,"" rather than attend a prestigious private school up in the hills above San Francisco. It's the early 70's and racial revolution is mightily in the air--Ira arrives at King High every day on the ""white bus,"" and is subjected to the jeers and insults of black students, chief among them the militant Calvin Barns, otherwise known as El Commandante. But despite his small size and physical frailty, Ira refuses to be cowed (although he learns elemental rules of safety, such as never go into the bathrooms, and always do what Calvin says). He tries comically to change from ""Ira Allen, Honkey wimp"" to a cool-talking ""blood"" (""I'sc gonna wipe yo face off the floor,"" he says to his little brother), but ends up simply being Ira: he falls in love with a black girl named Jessica Tice after rescuing her retainer from a trash barrel, and ends up leading a boycott of Ms. Lavelle's history class (Ms. Lavelle is hip and pretty and wears ""Native American"" costumes) because her spurious liberalism is teaching no one the truth about the history of race relations in America. Despite a somewhat sentimentalized ending, this is a funny, well-written, lively debut.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's