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The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Review by Anique

Post Date:05/02/2021 8:00 am

the 57 bus book cover

The 57 Bus is a literary nonfiction written by Dashka Slater. Slater is an author and journalist who is most known for her children’s book. By branching out into the nonfiction world she gave readers an incredible book about an experience that most people will never see in their own lives. The book tells the story of Sasha and Richard, two teens whose short encounters changed their lives forever. Throughout the book, the author relies on quotes and memories of those involved in the story in order to retell the story for readers. This true story takes place in Oakland, California, around 2013 (the story continues for the next few years after).  

One of the people whose story is told in this book is Sasha. Sasha is a teenager who has struggled with gender and sexuality for their whole life, who was also diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the young age of seven. Eventually Sasha comes to identify as agender, meaning that they do not identify as neither a boy nor a girl. This topic can be difficult for anyone to grasp, including even Sasha’s parents. However, it has not been too much of a problem for Sasha to find friends just like them in the Bay Area. The other person talked about in this book is Richard. Another teenager in Oakland, Richard has a very different life than Sasha does, attending a large public school surrounded by crime and violence. Although involved in some smaller crimes and receiving pretty minor punishments, Richard is known all around as a good kid, never failing to put a smile on anyone’s face. This all changes when Richard is convinced by some friends so have a little fun with fire.  

As Sasha is sleeping on the 57 bus, Richard sets their skirt on fire, expecting it to go out as soon as it lights. When the fire ignites into something much bigger than expected, both Richard and Sasha’s lives are changed forever.  

“...one minute you’re on your way home from school and then it’s an ambulance and a hospital and surgery and pain and painkillers and bandages and seated showers. It was just like, How is this a thing that happens?” 

The 57 Bus is a great book that teaches many different lessons about love, respect, forgiveness, and positive change. Throughout the book, Slater incorporates many lessons about gender, sexuality, etc., helping readers understand Sasha and their friends better. Slater also helps readers understand different California laws that affect this case greatly. Both of these things help readers truly understand the book better, as well as the positions of both parties of the case. Sasha courage and Richard’s compassion throughout the book make a great story. Both Sasha and Ricahrd went through difficult times in their life, and The 57 Bus does an incredible job at making readers sympathize with them.  

Overall this book is great for anyone who enjoys a great book that represents resilience and strength. It is more than recommended for one who would like to learn more about topics such as law and acceptance.  

Checkout The 57 Bus from the Newport Beach Public Library.

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