Friday, May 25, 2007

Freedom Writers Diary - Book Review

Well I finished the Freedom Writers Diary. (This is the cover version that I have). It was a hard book to get through because of all the painful stories. These are teenagers who were shot at, raped, assaulted by gangs and by parents, jailed, living on the streets and doing drugs. But at school they were reading about Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic - two girls who lived through wars and wrote diaries. Anne of course lived through the Second World War in Europe. Zlata lived in Bosnia and lived through the Bosnia/Serbian war of the early 1990s. She was forced into hiding because she was of mixed ethnic race. Anne did not survive her war - but she was not killed in the gas chambers. Anne died because of disease - specifically Typhus. Zlata survived and her family escaped their war to Paris. She now lives in Ireland.

Anyway the kids wrote letters to Miep Gies - the Dutch women who helped hide Anne Frank's family in the office building. Miep was invited to America for some war related anniversary, so Ms Gruell - the kids teacher - arranged for Miep Gies to speak to the kids as well. This had a huge impact on them, so the following year, the teacher invited Zlata Filipovic to visit and speak to the kids. Another huge impact.

When the kids started High school, they were put into a "English for Dummies" class with a freshman teacher, because they were not expected to graduate. They were expected to drop out, be killed, end up in jail or on the streets. All of the 150 kids in Gruell's English classes stayed in school for the entire 4 years and they all graduated. Of course they had problems, but they stuck it out. Several of these kids were the first in their families to EVER graduate high school.

1 comment:

Literary Feline said...

Great review! I read Zlata Filipovic diary a couple of years ago and found it very moving. I am looking forward to reading Freedom Writers one of these days.