This is a tenderly crafted account of real events that took place in Oakland, CA in 2013. Sasha, self-proclaimed as ‘agender’ (not identifying as either male or female), falls asleep on a bus after school. Richard and two friends, also high school students, are standing near Sasha, laughing at the skirt Sasha is wearing. Lloyd gives Richard his lighter and repeatedly urges Richard to light the skirt on fire. Richard eventually does, thinking it will smolder a little. Instead, the entire skirt is in flames within moments and Sasha wakes up screaming. Richard and friends scramble off the bus immediately, but on-bus cameras record the event. Richard is tracked down at school the next day and is soon charged, as an adult, with two hate crimes. Both sides of the story, including before, during and after the bus ride, are told with deep compassion, touching on issues of gender, race, class, the justice system, and, quite simply, humanity. This is an unforgettable and a surprisingly hopeful story.— Kay
Sasha and Richard were two ordinary teens when an act of horror changed their lives. On a public bus heading home from school, Richard, a young African American teen, decides to play a joke on Sasha, an agender teen who fell asleep on the ride home. But the joke goes horribly wrong, scarring Sasha for life and provoking a firestorm from the media and public. This book tells their story. Expertly weaving both sides together, Slater gives a stunning perspective from friends, family, and the teens themselves. A timely book, perfectly crafted to help facilitate all types of discussions.— From Kelli's Staff Recommendations
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.
About the Author
Dashka Slater has written many books, including Baby Shoes, The Sea Serpent and Me, which was a Junior Library Guild Selection, Escargot, and Dangerously Ever After. She is also an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, and Mother Jones. She lives in California.