The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. 320 p. Farrar Straus & Giroux, October, 2017. 9780374303235. (Review from purchased copy.)
Happy Friday TMS Readers! As week seven comes to a close,
Our Fact Friday is a tough read. Its written for a YA audience and tackles some tough social justice issues. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater examines a hate crime that was committed in Oakland, California in 2013 on the 57 bus. Seventeen-year-old Sasha attended a private high school and fourteen-year-old Richard attended public high school. They didn't know each other but they both took the 57 bus to get to and from school. Sasha caught Richard's eye on the 57 bus because Sasha had fallen asleep and was wearing a skirt. Sasha appeared to be a boy to Richard so Richard thought it would be a funny prank to set Sasha's skirt on fire with a lighter. The skirt was made of a gauzy material and ignited suddenly, engulifing Sasha's legs in flames. Richard never intended such a catastrophic injury. Sasha spent months in the hospital and many more recovering from his burns. Richard was charged with a hate crime and was also charged as an adult, which meant he would spend many years behind bars once convicted. Slater skillfully delves into the many facets of this headlining-grabbing story. The reader learns about both boys' life, their interests, their challenges. The reader also learns many, many statistics, like how the criminal justice system in California; how the law disproportionately punishes black offenders and how lgbtq people, especially youth, are disproportionately victimized. There's a lot to digest, think about and discuss here for older teens and adults. The 57 Bus won a Stonewall Award and was an Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult finalist.