This is the true story of Sasha and Richard who were on the 57 bus together one fateful day in November 2013. While the students didn't know each other, they crossed paths every day on the bus. When circumstances lead Richard to light Sasha's skirt on fire, a fire that leaves Sasha badly burned, their lives are forever changed. As much a book about an agender teen and the hate crime that was committed against them, as it is a book about the inequality of the justice system for young African American males. The topics this covers are too important to not read. Highly recommended for grades 8 and up.
There was so much that I liked about this book. I liked the way cheerleaders are depicted as smart, thoughtful athletes. I liked the way relationships are forged and conveyed, including the relationships between Hermione and the various adults in her life. I liked the way the character dealt with her rape. Everything about this book felt very realistic and carefully thought out.
Hermione is the co-captain of the cheerleading squad in a small Ontario town. On the last night of cheer camp she is drugged and raped. However, she doesn't remember a thing. As she picks up the pieces and starts her senior year in school she deals with the rape and the ensuing issues that come from it. She refuses to be a victim and her support group around her makes sure they are there to challenge anyone who may try to make her one. This is different from other stories where the main character is raped in that Hermione's reaction is not to fall apart and withdraw from society. (A totally legitimate and real reaction to rape that should and is covered in other YA books) Instead Johnson has crafted a quiet but powerful story of healing and strength. Well crafted story, interesting characters and it deals with real controversial issues in a different way. Recommended for ages 14 and up.