The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives

One of my favorite librarians pressed this into my hands today after we were discussing how teenagers today can be absolutely obliterated by their dumb mistakes unlike what we experienced growing up. This book tracks the devastating impact of a few moments on an Oakland bus in November 2013 when Richard, a 16-year-old, was showing off and goofing around with his friends and lit the skirt that Sasha, a genderqueer teen, was wearing on fire. The fire burned Sasha severely, another passenger threw them to the ground to put out the flames but they had to have skin grafts and live with the fear of infection for months after. Which seems actually tame compared to what happened to Richard, the young black male captured on bus video and later telling the police that he was homophobic (after ignoring the right to remain silent). Richard gets tried as an adult (yikes) and sentenced to 7 years, later reduced to 5 years. As Sasha heads off to MIT and the wonders of Boston, Richard shuffles behind bars. Not too much of a stretch to wonder what would have happened if Richard had not been a young black male.