Review: The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

The 57 Bus tells the true story of two teens who don’t know eachother: an African American teen named Richard, and Agender teen named Sasha, and how their lives collide in November of 2013 when on the bus journey home they’re on together for 8 minutes each day, Richard decides to set a light to Sashas skirt while they were napping.

I don’t read as much non fiction as I would like to, so when I saw this book on NetGalley I had to request it and I was so chuffed when I’d been approved! Because of its subject matter, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy read, however it’s definitely an incredibly important one that’s really eye opening and informative.

The 57 Bus is such a wonderful book, there’s a fantastic amount of detail but all told so well that it never comes across like an info dump. Because of all the detail, you really get a feel for both Sasha and Richard’s lives and how they change after what happened – Sasha, recovering, and Richard, being charged as an adult. The author provides you with knowledge, that will stick with you beyond finishing this book, that gives you such a strong insight into the class difference between the two teens, their families, and their friends. While it understandably gets quite dark at times, I feel like the tone changed to more hopeful towards the end.

I struggled to put this book down, and when I did I kept thinking about what the outcome of it will be, and therefore stopped everything else I was doing to read on. At the end, there was a list of Gender-Neutrality Milestones and also Some Numbers regarding US Juvenile Incarceration, the former being positive and the latter quite shocking, however unfortunately not surprising. These lists are just 2 things out of plenty that are certain to make an impact on you, and I cannot think of a single fault with this book.

A quote that I feel has to be mentioned:

“Just one-third of white youths were sentenced to adult or juvenile state correctional facilities in 2012, while two-thirds were given probation or sentenced to serve time in county jails. For kids of color, the ratios were reversed—two-thirds served time in state facilities, while one-third received probation or jail. Nationally, 58 percent of all incarcerated African American youths are serving their time in adult prisons.”

Thank you very much to Netgalley and publisher Wren & Rook (Hachette Children’s Group) for letting me have an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

The 57 Bus is released on May 31st and is available to pre-order here – I strongly suggest that you do.

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