Back in 2013, two high-school kids were riding an AC Transit bus when one of them set the other on fire. Eighteen-year-old Sasha Fleischman — who identifies as agender — leapt up, skirt in flames, but survived with the help of two passengers.
Legs charred nearly to the bone, Sasha staggered out of the bus in shock and collapsed on the ground. Sixteen-year-old Richard Thomas, who had flicked the lighter and then slipped off the bus, was arrested the next day.
Reporter Dashka Slater explores this incident in her book The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives. It looks into questions of gender identity, class, and juvenile justice, often through the language of the youth themselves.
Dashka sat down with KALW’s Ben Trefny, who asked her to start by reading an excerpt from the book.
Click the audio player above to listen to the full interview.