Dashka Slater’s novel “The 57 Bus” tells the true story of two individuals after one made a life-changing decision to light the other’s skirt on fire on Nov. 4 2013. The book follows Sasha, an agender teen who is the victim of the crime, and Richard, a young African American boy who is the perpetrator, before and after their chance encounter on the 57 bus in Oakland, California.
The book is divided into four parts: Sasha, Richard, The Fire and Justice. The first two sections explain the backgrounds of each of the “characters,” while the other two follow the events of the fire incident and the process of Richard’s criminalization. Near the nd of her novel, Slater also includes data about gender-neutrality milestones and various facts about US juvenile incarceration.
All the information in the novel comes from an array of interviews, documents, letters, videos, diaries, social media posts and public records. Quotes in the novel are verbatim to the original sources in order to keep the novel as factual as possible. The chapters are short and consist of a range of short prose, letters and texts from the “characters” themselves.
The storyline explores the life of a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a member of the African American community, in order to show readers the struggles of both minority groups and more specifically, how both characters’ experienced their side of the crime.
The story itself is intriguing and written in a structurally interesting way for readers. As a nonfiction novel it is successful in entertaining for its target audience of younger teens, while also remaining informative about the original event.
Overall, “The 57 Bus” is a great retelling of a true story and is recommended for both fans and haters of the nonfiction genre because of its unique storytelling tactics and ability to keep all readers hooked onto every word.