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The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: About

 Award winning author Dashka Slater 

visited Bentley Friday, October 19!

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.

The 57 Bus

“Dashka Slater wrote The 57 Bus for teenagers, but her audience should also include parents. The two youngsters from Oakland, Calif., whose paths cross so disastrously are both extremely likable…Slater doesn’t apologize for Richard; she just asks us to consider where he came from and to question the ingrained prejudice of a legal system that eventually locked him up for five years.”―The New York Times Book Review 

“[J]ournalist Dashka Slater’s nuanced nonfiction account of an Oakland crime involving two teens — Sasha, the victim, and Richard, the perpetrator — encourages readers to think beyond rigid, traditional social norms and the prejudices that often accompany them. . . This is a book about individuals caught within — and pushing against — the framework of culture.” ―The Chicago Tribune

The 57 Bus does what all great books do—reveals our world to us anew.” ―BookPage

“Slater provides a nuanced portrait of both teenagers and delves into the hot-button issues of gender nonconformity, bias crimes and juvenile justice.” ―The Washington Post

“A powerful story of class and race, gender and identity, justice and mercy, love and hate. Using interviews, court documents, and news accounts, Slater has crafted a compelling true-crime story with ramifications for our most vulnerable youth.” ―The Horn Book

“[A] thought-provoking tale of class, race, gender, morality and forgiveness. . . The 57 Bus will leave you with a hole in your heart and tears running down your cheeks. For a book about a horrible crime, the amount of love is remarkable.” ―The Daily Californian

“It is likely that this account will spark conversations, debates, and contemplation, perhaps leading readers to define for themselves what justice means.” ―VOYA

“[A]remarkable book about a terrible act and the consequences that followed.” ―LitHub A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of the Year 

"With a journalist's eye for overlooked details, Slater does a masterful job debunking the myths of the hate-crime monster and the African-American thug, probing the line between adolescent stupidity and irredeemable depravity. Few readers will traverse this exploration of gender identity, adolescent crime, and penal racism without having a few assumptions challenged. An outstanding book that links the diversity of creed and the impact of impulsive actions to themes of tolerance and forgiveness." —Kirkus starred review

"Using details gleaned from interviews, social media, surveillance video, public records, and other sources, Slater skillfully conveys the complexities of both young people’s lives and the courage and compassion of their families, friends, and advocates, while exploring the challenges and moral ambiguities of the criminal justice system. This painful story illuminates, cautions, and inspires." —PW starred review

Awards for The 57 Bus

 Winner of the 2018 Stonewall Book Award A New York Public Library Notable Books for Teens
2017 Junior Library Guild Selection A Children's Book Review's Best Young Adult Book of 2017
2018 Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction Finalist 2017 Nerdy Book Club Award for Long Form Nonfiction
2018 NCIBA Young Adult Book of the Year A Denver Public Library Best & Brightest Books of 2017
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year A Chicago Public Library Best Teen Book of 2017
A Kirkus Best Teen Nonfiction of 2017  A "Bustle" Best True Crime Book of 2017
A Shelf Awareness Best Children’s & Teen Book of 2017  2018 Capitol Choice List of Noteworthy Books for Children & Teens
A 2018 Rainbow Reads Top Ten Book  
   

 

Borrow the ebook!

 Use your Bentley Overdrive ebook collection to check out the ebook.  Select "Bentley School" and your school username then search for 57 Bus.

Read this book if ...

  • You want to explore what "Justice" means for both a victim and a perpetrator, both within and outside of the justice "system".
  • You like  to read non-fiction that tells both sides of a story in a balanced way
  • You have an interest in understanding the perspectives of people of non-binary gender, or people of color.
  • You are comfortable with a book that centers around, but does not focus on, an act of violence.

Podcast Interview with author

A Tale of Two Oaklands Colliding on ‘The 57 Bus’   Michael Krasny interviews author Dashka Slater on KQED Forum Oct. 26, 2017.

Dashka Slater: Gender, race and justice.   A BookPage Interview by Jon Little.  November 1, 2017. 

Link to original New York Times article

February 2015 New York Times article by Dashka Slater (the genesis for the book)

Response to New York Times article by the District Attorney for Alameda Country:
Dashka Slater draws a sensitive and insightful portrait of Sasha Fleischman and the crime that took place when Richard Thomas set Fleischman’s skirt on fire. Unfortunately, the article contains an incomplete representation of the ultimate sentence. My office took great care, as well as research and time, crafting a unique sentence that takes into consideration the safety of the community, the severity of the crime, the age of the defendant and the primary goal of ensuring that Thomas has the opportunity to participate in therapeutic services and education programs that will allow him to become an engaged and responsible citizen upon his release from custody. A seven-year prison sentence was imposed; however, 90 days after imposition of sentence, and again just before his 18th birthday, Thomas will return to court, and the judge will receive an evaluation regarding his conduct at the Division of Juvenile Justice. If Thomas demonstrates his motivation to fully engage in programs and therapy, he will be resentenced to a term allowing him to remain in the Division of Juvenile Justice system. He may then be released just before his 21st birthday. Built into the sentence is an incentive to fully participate in programs and be reinstated into society. The victim and the victim’s family were kept fully apprised of the negotiations at every step of the way. NANCY O’MALLEY, District Attorney of Alameda County, Calif.Dashka Slater draws a sensitive and insightful portrait of Sasha Fleischman and the crime that took place when Richard Thomas set Fleischman’s skirt on fire. Unfortunately, the article contains an incomplete representation of the ultimate sentence. My office took great care, as well as research and time, crafting a unique sentence that takes into consideration the safety of the community, the severity of the crime, the age of the defendant and the primary goal of ensuring that Thomas has the opportunity to participate in therapeutic services and education programs that will allow him to become an engaged and responsible citizen upon his release from custody. A seven-year prison sentence was imposed; however, 90 days after imposition of sentence, and again just before his 18th birthday, Thomas will return to court, and the judge will receive an evaluation regarding his conduct at the Division of Juvenile Justice. If Thomas demonstrates his motivation to fully engage in programs and therapy, he will be resentenced to a term allowing him to remain in the Division of Juvenile Justice system. He may then be released just before his 21st birthday. Built into the sentence is an incentive to fully participate in programs and be reinstated into society. The victim and the victim’s family were kept fully apprised of the negotiations at every step of the way. NANCY O’MALLEY, District Attorney of Alameda County, Calif.