“One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.”
I have a book to recommend, The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. In this true story account of two teens who, other than taking the same public bus route home after school, have nothing in common. Sasha, a white, agender twelfth grader who attends a small private school and lives in the more upscale foothills of Oakland, and Richard, an African American, Oakland High School student, who resides in a crime-ridden section of the city, are forever connected by an impulsive criminal act: Sasha the victim; Richard the perpetrator.
The story of Sasha and Richard is well researched and told in a thoughtful, honest and unsensational manner. Readers will empathize with both Sasha and Richard and gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of the penal system, gender identity, race and poverty. Despite the pain and struggles Sasha and Richard endure, the story ends on a note of hopefulness and forgiveness.
I plan to book talk The 57 Bus to my eighth graders early next week, and I have a feeling it will generate immediate buzz and a waitlist.