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The Freedom Writers Diary

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  12,975 Ratings  ·  1,506 Reviews

Straight from the front line of urban America, the inspiring story of one fiercely determined teacher and her remarkable students.

As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students. One day she i
Paperback, 10th Anniversary Edition, 316 pages
Published October 12th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published September 1st 1999)
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John Cornelius I believe this book is an easy read, but there should be published copies available in other languages as well. As far as comparing the book to the…moreI believe this book is an easy read, but there should be published copies available in other languages as well. As far as comparing the book to the movie, I actually preferred the book over the movie simply because there was a lot more events happening in the book that is not found in the movie. On a positive note, the movie did a good job in portraying the work down to the literary details. Plus, I thought the movie was one of Hilary Swank's best performances as an actress.(less)
Aurel I really liked the movie. But I liked it for different reasons. I liked it almost as much as "Dangerous Minds" but for the same reasons, as an…moreI really liked the movie. But I liked it for different reasons. I liked it almost as much as "Dangerous Minds" but for the same reasons, as an entertaining movie which - at first viewing - moved me a lot at parts. Where as when I read the book, there was no doubting that this was real, it wasn't written to entertain but to inform, so it's great.(less)

Community Reviews

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May 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2004
Erin Gruwell was a first-year high school teacher. She was teaching tough kids in Long Beach, CA. Her students are the lowest at the school so she begins with diaries written by others to have them create diaries of their own. She was able to stay with these students for all four years of high school. Then she decided to teach college to new teachers.

I teach. I teach well. An yet I find myself discouraged when I read books like this. Not because of the state of education or students in America.
Dec 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I will begin by stating that I did not read this entire book. I made it through 50 or 60 pages. I had not had any intent to read it, as I have heard more than enough stories about the fish out of water young white teacher who is able to "save" the inner city youth from the apparent inevitability of failure. A coworker strongly recommended the book to me and actually put it in my hand, so I decided to give it a chance.

As I read one journal entry after another, I was puzzled by the fact that ever
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
True, this collective diary depicts racism quite poignantly, but what touched me deeply is this: how the teens use writing to come out of the confinement of racism and resurrect their self-esteem.

A powerful, captivating narrative.
Black Elephants
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The only reason I picked up this book was because it happened to be lying around the house, and I needed something to read. I'd heard of the movie with Hillary Swank and intended (and still do) to stay away from it as I believed it was another "Gangsta's Paradise" cliche: white teacher, colored students, they all dance and learn. When I picked up the book, I thought it would provide a few anecdotes of interest before I returned it to its pile on the floor where it would disappear under weightier ...more
Valdir Delgado
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Freedom Writers by Erin Gruwell is one of the most interesting books I've ever read.It is about how one teacher(Erin Gruwell) makes it her goal to change the way students in her class view the world.The students in her class view the world as one big war zone and have their own goal which is to be able to survive the streets without being killed.Mrs.Gruwell takes it up on herself to show the kids the theirs more to life then gang violence trying to do so she risks losing her job and husband.She ...more
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty disappointed by this book from the get-go. Diaries and journals are interesting because you are able to experience someone else's life in real-time. Part of that experience is being immersed in the language, personality, and emotion of the author. The students idolize Anne Frank and Zlata, but don't allow any of their own voices into their writing. Each entry sounds just like the next with only occasional sentences that feel "real" and un-edited.

Good writers capture the energy of th
Apr 25, 2008 rated it liked it
I work in an inner city school. This doesn't quite touch on the way inner city schools really are. For instance, all the kids' writing is in standard English. My kids, when expressing how they really feel, use what I call Urban English. I just couldn't hear my kids in this book. I related a bit to the teacher's writing. But there are a lot of realities that were not portrayed in this book. For instance, the teacher had her own room --- the same room --- for the 4 years she taught. The reality of ...more
Jessica Baccari
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Freedom Writers Diary is an amazing, moving, and inspirational piece of art. It consists of a collection of diary entries written by the 150 Freedom Writers and their English teacher, Ms. Gurwell. All of these Freedom Writers are students at Wilson High School in Long Beach California, where they have been placed in a below average English class with Ms. Gurwell as their teacher. This is Ms.Gurwell's first teaching experience, and it will have a lasting impact on her. One of the first assig ...more
Krista Stevens
An interesting but ultimately unrealistic story of a high school teacher in an urban school in CA who does amazing things with her students. The unrealistic parts - first, the students write diary entries - what I missed immediately were student's voices. With one or two exceptions, they could have all been written by the same student - the stories were different of course (fresh, sad, poignant, brutally honest) dealing with everything from molestation to drugs to violence - but the sentence str ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karen by: SJHS Teacher Book Club
Shelves: nonfiction
Unfortunately, I did not love the book. I wanted to, being a teacher who hopes she makes a difference, even in some small way, in the lives of her students. Particularly since it was a true story, it had all the potential of a classic tearjerker where this sap is concerned, and yet, it fell flat.

First of all, they edited it so much that it felt fake. I think I would have much preferred to see the diary entries as photocopies in the students' own handwriting. It would have added a level of authen
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I almost feel guilty for giving this book two stars instead of five. I mean, it's an inspiring story, so it should have blown my mind, right?

Basic Premise: First-year teacher Erin Gruwell is given the traditional assignment of her position: the classes none of the other teachers want. She goes on to inspire them to read, write, travel, and go to college.

The book is made up of students' diary entries, so from the get-go the reader has to know that this is not professional writing. It shows. At ti
Aug 03, 2008 rated it liked it
I had to read this after having seen an essay in Newsweek. We former teachers always want to to hear those great success stories and this is certainly one of them! My only wish is that the rest of the wonderfully creative and committed teachers out there were recognized like this one...the book itself was good. I found it a bit redundant. Worthwhile but I think you'll skip ahead after awhile. I don't want to take anything away from it, read it, pass it on, support them, give every hardw ...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
I first heard of this book in Sheila's blog when she reviewed this during the Banned Books week last year. At that point, I wasn't too keen on reading the book, but when I saw the movie pop up in my Netflix recommendations list, I decided to check it out. I didn't have too many expectations from it, but by the end of the movie, I loved it. Who doesn't love a rebel? And I mean a good rebel -- someone who succeeds in something when everyone else expected him/her to fail. The movie was everything a ...more
Linda C
Aug 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
This feels like a difficult book to rate fairly. You can either rate the story (as many reviewers did) or rate the book.

I am choosing to rate the book, as this is Good Reads, after all, not Inspirational Moments. With that in mind, the book gets three stars. There were a lot of great moments (and the story is very inspirational) but the middle of the book seemed to drag. It felt longer than 280 pages, to be honest. In order to protect the identity of the students, the diary entries were marked o
Brenna Hobson
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it
1. I decided to read this book after watching the movie that the book inspired in class. I really enjoyed watching this movie, and thought that perhaps the book could be even better than the movie.

However, after finishing the book, I definitely prefer the movie. This is because I found parts of the book quite dull, repetitive, and I also found the writing style very simple and basic (although this is probably because it was written by a group of teenagers). Even if the writing itself wasn't very
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially teachers
Recommended to Therese by: I saw the movie

There is no way I can do this book justice, but I'm going to give it a shot. All I can say is that I am blown away and so glad I read this book even though I had seen the movie. As is almost always the case, there is so much more to the book than in the movie, mostly IMO how the students feel about going through all that they have experienced.

Erin Gruwell, not only challenged her students, but challenged herself when she took a teaching position at Wilson High in Long Beach, California. Whe
Liz Janet
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a great book and a great film. I love the film more than the book, so I am going to link a bunch of scenes so you can see them and then read the book and watch the movie because it is awesome.
Freedom Writers - The showdown
Holocaust Scene
Line Game
I Saw the War for the First Time
When Will I Be Free?
You Are The Heroes
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be a little manipulative. I understand that Ms. Gruwell was a spark for growth in the lives of these students, but I was a little annoyed. She taught these 150 kids for 4 years...why? Why didn't she try to reach as many students as possible? Couldn't she have sparked change in 4 different groups of 150 students? However, I greatly appreciated reading the students' impressions of the books they read. I am taking a few recommendations from them.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I found myself tearing up a bit at some of the diary entries in this book. Dammit, kids!

First year teacher Erin Gruwell found herself handed a class of "undesirable" kids that no one wanted and no one thought would go anywhere, let alone graduate. Thank goodness Ms. Gruwell was crazy optimistic and never lost faith. Her classes, 150 kids, ended up being the center of attention nationwide for their success. And that success started through reading and writing. My 2 favorite things. This book is a
Tiasia Saunders
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read it !!! One of my favorite books of all times from just reading the first page ❤❤❤❤ ...more
Caitlyn Gallot
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I decided to read this diary/book after we studied the film in the first half of the year. I was very moved by the film and was determined to read the book and learn about the actual stories of the students more in depth than what the movie had told us about these pupils.

This book obviously comes under the category of "a book with themes related to those we've studied in the first half of the year."
which is social inequality, and this book definitely has themes related to that as it heavily enfo
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book I chose to read was The Freedom Writers, by Erin Gruwell. Erin Gruwell, is a high-school teacher at Wilson High. Wilson High is a school filled with troubled teens, teens that have a hard home life or no home life at all. The students their look at one another not as human beings and possible friends, but as strangers that hold a threat to one another’s life.Erin Gruwell gets assigned to a class that had no future and were bound to fail according the Wilson administration. Erin Gruwell ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
For many years, I was a high school English teacher who had the privilege of reading students' stories in papers, journal entries, and the sometimes spontaneous writings they chose to share with me. The anonymous voices in The Freedom Writers Diary are not the authentic voices of students. The stories may be real, but none of them are unique, and they were either all written by the same person (presumably Erin Gruwell), or they are so heavily edited as to entirely different from the originals.

Michael Martin
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-discovery
This book was amazing. From the time I opened the book to the time that I put it down, I could not stop reading it. This book was powerful, sad, funny, and everything else in one. While it was a little emotional at times, it also carried a more serious tone with it. It depicted the racial tension with multiple gangs around the area and how many died and how kids ended up living in fear of each other- all to the point where race riots were started in the school and kids had to start carrying weap ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
The Freedom Writers Diary is about a 23 year old English teacher named Erin Gruwell who has come to teach at Wilson high school in order to make a change. Over a period of time she works with room 203. The class gives Erin total disrespect as they all have bad background and have grown up in bad environments. One day Erin finds a racist note and decides to do something about it so she starts teaching them in a different way. As Erin works with them, she brings upon change as she makes them write ...more
May 27, 2007 added it
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 wr ...more
Karen & Gerard
This book is inspirational to both teachers and students. It is written by high schoolers who were considered "losers" by the school administration of Wilson High, a racially integrated school in Long Beach, California. No one expected them to graduate. They are teens write about their problems and how being in Erin Gruwell's class made a huge difference in their lives. It is a compilation of their journal entries. At the beginning of their freshman year, none of them expected to graduate and we ...more
Sarah AlObaid
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
When i watched the movie for the first time, it inspired me in ways i never thought possible. It was probably the first thing that made me realize that perhaps i wanted to be a teacher and perhaps being a teacher is not as bad as people make it sound. When i found out that it was based on a real story and a non-fiction book, i NEEDED to read it. And i did. And this book is just... insane.
It is so eye-opening and inspiring. It discusses issues that society usually turns its back on either becuase
Aubriel Monae
This is a really good book for me. I am doing a project for my reading class and this book had me hooked from the begining. I loved the part when the boy got into a shoot out. That part was very interesting. I can read and understand what the students in Ms.Gruwell's class is going through. I also really enjoy this book because i can relate to it. I dont know what else to say about the book , but I do reconmend you guys to read it.
Kathleen  Schnieber
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
this books was so good but very emotional
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“Don't let the actions of a few determine the way you feel about an entire group. Remember, not all German's were Nazis.” 89 likes
“Evil prevails when good people do nothing.” 76 likes
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