rachel's Reviews > The Freedom Writers Diary

The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell
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May 27, 2007

Read in May, 2007

This is a diary compiled from 150 students in Long Beach, CA. They were almost all at-risk kids in gangs, who lived in the projects, and generally were expected to drop out of high school and not live to see 18 or be in jail. Enter the preppy very white idealistic Erin Gruwell who was a brand new teacher fresh out of college. She gets the idea to teach them about the Holocaust after a racist drawing of one student gets passed around the class. After that it picks up, and soon her students are writing journals, reading the Diary of Anne Frank, and meeting with Holocaust survivors. It transforms their lives and that of their teacher as well.

This book is a compilation of the student's diaries and follows them through the four years they stay with Ms Gruwell. It is pretty amazing to see the changes that many of them go through and also painful to read about some of the horrific experiences they went through.

Sometimes I wonder if the students without horrific experiences felt in that class. Did they feel left out? But no - everyone experiences intolerance or
"wrong" situations in life, and these students now have a heightened awareness of this.

It's pretty amazing at the end, to read how these students are going to Harvard and Stanford, and so on. I'm a little disappointed that the teacher left the high school after that to go teach at a university, but in theory she is training a lot more teachers her style of teaching now. But I would be more powerfully impressed if she had stayed at Long Beach and done it for another 4 years with another 150 students. But perhaps she is helping 1500 students with her new foundation.
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