New novel demonstrates the humanity in everyone

By Rita Nicholson 

It’s not easy to hate people when they’re simply only human. The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, resonates with this message. In Oakland, California, Sasha and Richard are riding the bus after school when Richard sets Sasha’s skirt on fire. The book shows that even though Richard committed a wrongful act, he’s still human and makes mistakes. The aftermath’s effects, not only for those involved, but also their family members and peers are also described.

The novel devotes a section to each of the teens’ lives prior to the incident, and Slater describes each teen in depth. Sasha is agender and prefers to use the pronoun “they.” Richard comes from a troubled situation, but does his best to make others laugh. Reading about each person gave me a complete sense of their personality. As I read, I started to view them as real people, not just names in the book. These detailed sections were effective in showing me that this is a true story with real people.

The book is also interspersed with facts about various topics, such as the crime rate in Oakland and statistics about incarcerated youths in the United States. These facts also made the events more realistic in my mind because the story itself is an example and representation of those facts.

The writing in The 57 Bus was very well done and attention-holding. I wanted to read more about the people involved and the aftermath of the fire. Dashka Slater did not fall short on representing agender people like Sasha. They were written as if they were a normal person and being agender did not detract from their personality at all. In today’s world, this representation is sometimes lacking, but it was definitely not so when it comes to Sasha. The 57 Bus is a great book for everybody. It deals with real people and real life issues. Anyone who reads it will learn more about a number of useful and relatable things and concepts.

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