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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

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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  17,841 ratings  ·  3,060 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
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
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Sarah Primarily 2013-2014, though it flashes back to both kids' earlier lives.

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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  17,841 ratings  ·  3,060 reviews


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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
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Elyse  Walters
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
THIS IS A TRUE STORY.....
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
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Kathryn
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, non-fiction
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
Jenna
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, race, lgbtq
For eight minutes a day, Sasha and Richard's paths overlap. They each take the 57 bus, though their lives are vastly different and they live in different parts of Oakland. Sasha lives in the middle-class foothills whilst Richard's family is poor and lives in the inner city. If not for the 57 bus, these two teens paths might never have crossed; they might have lived their lives totally unaware of the other, and thus their lives would have been vastly different.

One afternoon, wanting to make his f
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Sara
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, ya, non-fic
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
...more
Raeleen Lemay
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqia, nonfiction
Read for Popsugar's 2018 Reading Challenge #2: True Crime

This book was very good! It delves pretty deeply into what it means to be agender, along with pronoun guides and a list of LGBTQ+ terminology, so if that sort of thing interests you, this book has tons of it!

The main focus of the book is the crime that was committed against Sasha, an autistic gender non-conforming teen, who was lit on fire on their way to school. It tells Sasha's story, as well as the story of Richard, the boy who committ
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Z
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
Anna
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
it takes pretty bad writing to make me bored of a true crime story but the author managed it!
Skip
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
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
DNF

I disliked the heavy-handed storytelling, that was all telling with no showing. I felt like the writer’s agenda didn’t allow this true story to unfold organically. I found myself wanting to yell at her to allow me to come to my own conclusions, which would have likely been the same as hers. I don’t recommend.
Alicia
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
...more
Marisa
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
♥ Sandi ❣
4 stars

The non-fiction story of two young teens - each taking their own direction - each from their own environment - that came together for a fraction of a second and changed each others lives forever.
On Bus 57, Oakland California, November 4, 2013, a non-thinking act left one person critically burned and another person facing a hate crime.

This story takes you through the lives of two teenagers - from the day of a tragic accident - to the conclusion of it's aftermath. We see the similarities
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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
...more
Lindsey
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book surprised me more than I thought it would. A non fiction that reads like fiction (I had to remind myself a few times that this actually happened). You think it’s about a horrendous crime that occurs on a bus but you get a story of forgiveness and knowing who you are.
Cammie
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
The 57 Bus deals with many sensitive and important issues without sensationalizing or editorializing. Slater tells Sasha's story and Richard's story and how the two came to have a shared story.
I much preferred the chapters that focused on the people over the sections that stated facts, statistics, and data. While I understand the importance of these details in the greater picture, I appreciated the human-ness given to not only Sasha and their friends and family but also Richard and his family t
...more
paula
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.
Sarah Swann
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It was incredibly informative on a case I wasn’t aware of. I enjoyed getting to know the victim and the perpetrator and what led all of these circumstances.
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
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Kelly
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
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Allwynne
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
Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)
Wow! Simply Wow... Even though this book falls into the YA genre, this book packs a punch,,, There is much to ponder and contemplate. Though easy to read, it is not an everyday read... This book grabs you and shakes you up... It spits you out a different person....
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!
Cheryl
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
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Ethen C.
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. I read it in three days but I didn’t mark it as read until the 18th. This book is about Sasha who’s skirt was put on fire on a city bus. This story tells about Sasha’s point of view and Richards. You should definitely pick it up.
B.A. Wilson
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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Shannon
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
...more
Saige
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a really powerful book. It gives equal time and consideration to Sasha and Richard- a fact I was concerned about when I read the back of the book. I like how the author presented information, with a compassionate tone that still acknowledged blame on Richard's part. This book tells the story of both teens before it tells the story of the crime that brought them together. I respect that attention to the humanity of the story. The short chapters were effective and the writing was clear, e ...more
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.
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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

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