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The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
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The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  4,097 Ratings  ·  872 Reviews
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 an
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Hannah Greendale
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

In November of 2013 in Oakland, California, an agender teenager riding the 57 bus was set on fire. In an instant – with a flicker of flame and a reckless lapse in judgement – the lives of two teenagers were changed forever.

Using information garnered from interviews, social media, public records, and surveillance videos, journalist Dashka Slater expands - in an unbiased manner - on her article published in
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The 57 bus travels through the wealthy neighborhoods in the Oakland Hills where they boast good schools ( where Tom Hanks and I attended) - and traveled into the flatlands of East Oakland, where the bulk of the cities murders happened.

Sasha attended a small private school in Berkeley— passing the area where Richard went to school ( in the flatlands).
“Each afternoon, the two teenagers’ journeys overlapped a mere eight minutes. If it hadn’t been for the 57 bus, their pa
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ya
I rarely read YA non-fiction, but I made an exception for Dashka Slater’s The 57 Bus. As a librarian, I’ve been searching for ways to address social justice topics. While it’s liberal, my home state is predominantly white. Fortunately as a child I lived abroad, so I had exposure to diverse groups of people and experiences. Born and bred Vermonters don’t necessarily have that luxury. Living in a small, rural, white state is akin to existing in a bubble. And that bubble can make it challenging for ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, non-fic, ya
I cannot recommend this book enough. It does so much.

It examines what it means to be a (fairly privileged) non-binary white teen with Aspergers.
It examines what it means to be an African-American male teen from a rough part of Oakland.
It examines the criminal justice system, particularly where it involves juveniles being tried as adults.
It looks at the complexities and problems of assigning a criminal act as a "hate crime".

The book is empathetic, and subtle, and cuts through the narrative wove
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Skip by: Jo Beth
Shelves: biography
Based on a true story, this book describes a horrific crime when a 16-year old black intentionally sets an agender person's skirt on fire, not realizing how flammable the material would be and the severe burns caused. Richard admits his guilt, but is vilified as a hatemonger and a political decision is made by the state prosecutor in Oakland to try them as an adult over the objections of the victim Sasha's family. Much like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I felt this book's scope was too l ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Although not the root cause, the two teenagers involved in this situation were on different sides of a sharp class divide. Shasha, white, came from a middle-class background; at home, they had time to dream, read, and create other languages, worlds, and plans for their own future. Richard, Black, attended a school with larger classes, more working class students, and more crime in the surrounding neighborhoods -- little time or quiet for dreams and aspirations there. Judging from the information ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazingly written work of nonfiction for a teen (or older) audience. This book presents 2 teens brought together on the same bus for a small amount of time, and the one act that changed their lives (for good and bad) forever. There are no black and whites in this book, the author attempts to tell the story of Sasha, an agender teen who likes to dress how they felt was right, as well as Richard a boy who had a lot of hardship, loss, and sadness in his life, who had a lighter that day. ...more
This is a story of a bright gender non conforming, bright, autistic, genuine person named Sasha. This is also a story of a African-American, silly and also bright, but slightly more troubled boy named Richard. The first in a skirt, the second with a lighter, and the story that brought them up to a crime, five seconds that burnt up as quick as a flame(literally and figuratively speaking) that would change both of their lives forever, and the complicated but hopeful aftermath. Might I also add thi ...more
K.A. Linde
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have no words for how amazing this was. I learned so much. It was so heartbreaking. I finished it in one sitting!
Berkeley High School Library
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first heard of the story when it occurred, reading the article about it in my sister’s high school newspaper in 2013. None of the words except the headline of the article stuck with me between then and the moment when I picked up The 57 Bus in 2017: “Agender Maybeck student set on fire”. Before reading the book, I had always regarded the incident as a tragedy, but nothing more. I didn’t know how deep and personal the story really was.

The 57 Bus goes above and beyond the headlines, dissecting a
100% my recommendation for any high school that does an all-school read, especially any school that implements restorative justice. The whole book is about the fallacy of binaries - boy and girl, good and bad, guilt and innocence... none of these are polar opposites.
Debbie Notkin
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The 57 bus runs through a long stretch of my home town of Oakland, including many very different neighborhoods and class levels. I ride it in two directions on most Sundays to visit some friends.

In 2013, after school, Sasha, a white non-gender-binary high school student, wearing a gauze skirt, was sleeping in the back of the bus. A small group of black teenage high-school students were horsing around nearby. One of them, Richard, lit a match, and touched it to the white student's skirt, which w
Rita Shaffer
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars ... this book is hard to review. The story is important for young people (actually, all people) to read because of the real lessons it teaches - one bad decision can really impact the lives of many people and no one should be hurt because of who they are.

I also learned so much about LGBTQ+ and the juvenile detention system from this book.

The writing definitely reads like multiple newspaper articles, though, and for me this was a little monotonous.

This book should be a part of every
Could this be a four rating? Sort of. I feel strongly about the content and approach to sharing these two teenagers' stories the way they did, BUT I was not keen on the storytelling itself.

I believe the pacing of the story was intentional with the chapters sometimes only one to two pages in length, but it was the wrong choice. It rushed the book when it didn't need to be rushed, especially for empathetic readers who want to dive in to Richard's story and Sasha's story. Sasha identifies as gender
Holy shit was this ever good.

Slater does a marvelous job of giving us insight into both Sasha -- the victim -- and Richard's lives, backgrounds, and stories. Why would a black boy set the skirt Sasha, who is gender nonconforming, wore, on fire? Is what he said about being homophobic true? Or was it fear which took over his 16-year-old mind and told him to say what the police would want him to say?

Even handed and compassionate at every turn, this is a powerful read and one that should spark a lo
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I may have read articles about this story but I can't remember. The fact that Dashka covered this story as a journalist was a great factor in this book. The author already had first had knowledge on this subject matter. What I enjoyed the most about this book is that it did not read like just a bunch of interviews. Yet, everyone who spoke and was featured in this book had a name and a face. It was like I was there in person listening as everyone spoke.

Yet, this book was not just about the crime
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was heartbreaking from every angle. Teens have it tough. This book left me drained as a parent of a teen. I felt so much hurt for both teens in this book. Gosh, this book is heavy.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an important read for today's world. This book should be mandatory reading for especially high schoolers but also adults as it eloquently captures the exclusive nature of social binaries and the oppressive flaws of the U.S. justice system, particularly for those of color.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish all YA nonfiction could be on this level. This book was exceptional (and totally lived up to the all the great reviews I’ve heard/read). So many important takeaways, presented in a readable, engaging format that will keep readers turning the pages and leave them asking important questions about life & society. I’ll be talking about this one for a long time to come.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are events in life that become gateways to the future in major ways. The fire that occurred on the 57 bus on November 4, 2013. Two young people's lives would never be the same as a result of the decision that was made. I appreciated the way that Slater gives a brief overview of the event before digging into the lives of Sasha and Richard (last names not shared in order to provide privacy). By the time the author circles back to the fire and the consequences I felt like I knew and cared abo ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2018
Read Harder 2018: True Crime

I suppose any book of true crime would be disturbing. This one is certainly true to its genre in that way. But while most true crime books are probably disturbing because of the viewpoint of the criminal, this book is disturbing because the true crime is perpetrated by a justice system that chose to try a child as an adult, a justice system that changed the plea bargain at the last minute, a justice system that is in no way color blind.

If The 57 bus is a sad look at
Jen Brodehl
3.5 Stars - I read this book for my book club. I learned a lot from reading it!! I listen to all of my books on audible and did not love this reader unfortunately. I was wishing I had read it instead. This book addresses a lot of heavy issues: the bus fire crime, juveniles in jail, asperger syndrome, agenders, transgenders, forgiveness and more. It was a bit heavy for me but I’m glad I read it. It was interesting because it happened in Oakland which is very close to where I live.
Tina Panik
Deeply moving and thought provoking, this true story will invite you to challenge your assumptions and beliefs on gender, class inequality, race, and the criminal justice system. Don't flinch; keep reading, and then start discussing!

This was an ARC.
B.A. Wilson
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ya, lgbtqia
This story is one that deserves to be told. It's a true story about an agender student who is set on fire on a bus. The content is good and worthy of a book. However, it was just an okay read for me. I struggled with the presentation, particularly in the first half. While I usually applaud a unique style and/or daring approach, this is one that appears interesting but doesn’t always read well.

The style is somehow both flowery and clipped. Also, for me, the first half of the book was too cold an
In 2013, agender teen, Sasha Fleischmann, a senior at a small, private school in Oakland, fell asleep on the 57 bus. They (Sasha’s preferred pronoun) were wearing a skirt. Richard Thomas, a sixteen-year-old junior at Oakland High, was goofing around with some friends on the same bus. Richard saw a dude in a white, gauzy skirt asleep on the bus. Richard had a lighter in his pocket. He thought it would be funny to light that skirt on fire. So he did. Sasha became engulfed in flames. They were able ...more
Virginia Walter
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an insightful, sensitive account of a crime that happened in Oakland, California, in 2013. An African-American boy lit the skirt of a white boy riding on the 57 bus. That teen was severely burned; the teen with the lighter was convicted of a hate crime. Both teens were coming home from school, Richard from a large public high school and Sasha from a progressive private school. It is a story of class, race, gender identity, homophobia, and much more.
A fascinating, timely read about intersections, the variety in communities, the problems with our justice systems and our education systems, gender, and race. Definitely an important book to get to teens and educators.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
What an important story to share with students! I am not sure how I feel about the organization of the writing, but the story itself raises a number of extremely interesting and complex issues. The relevance and timeliness of this true story makes it all the more powerful.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is based on a true story that took place in Oakland, California which is not far from where I live. From what I read, the story got international attention when it happened. It gives both sides of the story and also dives into the subject matter of whether juveniles should be charged as adults and gender identity. I found the story very informative and it kept my interest the whole time.
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Dashka Slater’s novel, The Wishing Box, was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, which called it “an impish novel, hopeful and full of humor.” She is the author of four acclaimed children's books: Baby Shoes; Firefighters in the Dark; The Sea Serpent and Me and Dangerously Ever After. She has two picture books forthcoming in 2017, as well as the much-anticipated Young ...more
More about Dashka Slater

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“Because I’m going to make you understand the family motto: Never let your obstacles become more important than your goal.” 3 likes
“Never let your obstacles become more important than your goal.” 3 likes
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