Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Bus 57 by Dashka Slater - OPTIONAL

Slater, Dashka The 57 Bus, 302 pages. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. $18. Content: Language: R (18 swears; 12 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

On November 4, 2013, two people’s lives intersect on Bus 57 in Oakland, California.  Richard is a teen hanging out with his friends and goofing around on the bus after school, when he horrifically lights the skirt of a passenger on fire with his lighter.  Sasha is coming home from school on the bus as well.  Sasha falls asleep only to be awoken because Sasha is on fire.  Following this tragic event, the author back tracks to Sasha’s life as a gender fluid teen and their (the pronoun preferred by Sasha) upbringing.  Richard’s life before his time on the bus is also presented, a life in which he tries to overcome the challenges of growing up in a hard neighborhood.  After the event, the author then goes on to explain Sasha’s recovery and Richard’s public trial and sentencing.  

This true story was well done.  Not just a story about the crime, but a look at the criminal and the victim and their lives.  There is a comprehensive explanation of the different terms for gender and sex, criminal statistics based on age and race as well as an explanation for the criminal proceedings for hate crimes and teens being tried as adults.  But it’s more than a book of statistics and terms, it gave me a look at the people and families who are involved-their hopes, weaknesses and strengths.  

HS – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson. 

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