The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

May 16, 2018

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. 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.

Sasha is A-gender and identifies neither as boy or girl and ‘they’ REALLY was caught in a fire. Richard is an African-American teenager who was friends with the wrong people and he REALLY did serve time for starting the fire that hurt Sasha. Reading this book, there were a few times where I forgot that these events were real because the drama was so packed with entertainment and character development.

I really liked how we got to know both MC’s before theΒ main event occurs, so we as readers wouldn’t have a fixed mindset of “the good guy, the bad guy”. Sasha is comfortable with who they are and they are lucky enough to attend a school and have friends that respects them. Richard is no stranger to trouble as he has been assigned to a group home by court before and is under bad influence by his friends who convince him to pull a prank by flicking a lighter towards the weird dude’s skirt. When he’s caught for the attack, labeled a hate crime, Richard knows better than to rattle out his friends since they’re basically all he’s got left and he takes on the trial and the punishment by himself while Sasha recovers from their many burn wounds.

This was the first ya non-fiction book I’ve read (if I remember correctly) and I was blown away. It delivered the same unique elements that a good contemporary book with an LGBQT theme does, only these events were real. It’s a wonderful and relevant story that deals with youth, sexuality, respect, forgiveness and support sprinkled with truth and actual facts about both MC’s lives and the justice system. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a real story with a focus on LGBQT or anyone interested in youth crime and/or the justice system.

(Keeping in mind that these events are real, I am only rating the value of the book as a reading experience)

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