One teenager in a skirt. One teenager with a lighter. One moment that changes both of their lives forever.
If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.
“Never let your obstacles become more important than your goal.”
Dashka Slater, The 57 Bus
Sasha, a white agender (identifies as neither male nor female) was a high school student riding the 57 Bus, when Richard, a black teen from a different school, set Sasha’s skirt on fire. The 57 Bus was riveting, emotional and full of empathy. In today’s world, this book provides an excellent tool in helping us better understand our social, economic and racial disparities. I admired how Slater’s writing exhibited compassion, fairness, and kindness to both Richard and Sasha. The story shows how a chance encounter can drastically change and alter our lives. In this case, the lives of Richard, Sasha, their families, and friends were never the same. I appreciated how Slater provided Richard and Sasha’s unique and honest perspectives. I also liked the easy-to-read short chapters and the author’s non-judgmental narrative. The 57 Bus would make an outstanding choice for middle/high school libraries, book clubs, and classrooms because you simply cannot read this book and remain the same. It definitely reminded me to be more open and accepting of others.