Guest Review: The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Title: The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
Author: Dashka Slater
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Hardcover, 320 Pages
Published October 2017

Summary: 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 and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight. 

Today on the blog we have a guest review from Erin over at The Tri-State Book Review Committee They were kind enough to stop by and review The 57 Bus and share their thoughts on it, and we couldn't be more excited to have them here as our guest reviewer for today! So without further ado, let's get into it!

Sasha is agender, a term referring to people who do not identify as either male or female. Born as a boy named Luke, Sasha picked their own name, loves wearing skirts and has found a wonderful group of friends at their private high school. Notice the use of “their” instead of “he” or “she”: Sasha prefers these pronouns and their family and friends have accepted them just as they are. 

Richard is a 16-year-old African-American boy whose mother had him at the age of 14 and though she loves him deeply, it has always been a struggle. He has been locked up once for fighting, but he has a good heart and wants to do better. He shows this by being a student of Ms. Kaprice, who works in his Oakland high school with the kids who have trouble getting to school, staying in school, and doing well in school. She treats him like he matters and she matters to him. 

These two meet at random on the 57 bus when Sasha falls asleep and Richard’s friend suggests lighting their skirt on fire. Richard does it, thinking it will be a harmless prank causing no real damage. Subsequently, when Sasha needs several surgeries and Richard is incarcerated, the story may seem to be over.

But it is not over, for this book goes into detail about the types of people Richard and Sasha are. Their background stories at the beginning will lead readers on a journey that is much different from simply hearing that “a black kid set a white boy in a skirt on fire on a bus”. Because this is a true story, the ending is no secret, but getting to know Richard and Sasha through short chapters that touch on many aspects of their lives and of the trial will make readers look at the world differently. They will see that not everyone is who they seem and one bad deed does not mean that a person should be labeled as such forever. Slater has written so beautifully a story that will inspire readers to stop judging, to forgive, and to hope.

We'd like to once again thank Erin for stopping by The Book Bratz today to post this guest review -- we hadn't heard of this book before this review, but now we're super interested and will be checking it out!

** Psst! Interested in guest reviewing on The Book Bratz? Shoot us an email at or DM us on Twitter (@thebookbratz) and we'd love to have you!

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