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A young man once labeled “severely learning disabled” journeys across America to find others who have used humor, imagination, and resiliency to create satisfying lives beyond “normal.”

When his teachers decided Jonathan Mooney needed special ed because he couldn’t follow directions, sit still, or read well, he feared he’d lost his chance to be a regular kid. Suddenly he was “not normal.” Suddenly he was a short-bus rider destined to travel a harder road, a distinction that screamed out his “difference” to a hostile world. Along with other kids facing similar challenges, he was denigrated daily. He almost lost hope. Yet ultimately, Jon shocked the skeptics, graduating from Brown University (with honors). But he could never shake the voice that insisted he would always be “less than.”

So he hit the road. To free himself, he dreamed up an epic journey across the U.S. on a broken-down short bus. This inspiring record of his odyssey documents Mooney’s search to help himself by learning from others once labeled abnormal who had learned to live in beautifully original ways. He meets Ashley, a deaf and blind girl who curses out her teachers in sign language; Kent, a performance artist with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who loves “yo mama” jokes and may just be the new Andy Kaufman; Jeff, an obsessive eccentric whom society would label autistic, keeps unadorned lists that describe his world in unexpectedly moving ways. These people confirm his belief that “normal” is a state that no one actually visits. Everyone, Jon discovers, must embrace even their most radical differences.

Propelled by a unique writer’s heart, mind, and spirit, The Short Bus is a rebellious, funny, and incredibly colorful investigation of life lived happily outside the lines.

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