77 pages 2 hours read

Erin Gruwell and Freedom Writers

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1999

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Senior Year and EpilogueChapter Summaries & Analyses

Senior Year—Fall 1997 Summary: "Ms. Gruwell"

With the support of the school superintendent and the president of the board of education, Ms. Gruwell gets permission to teach senior English that year. Her focus will be to “get the Freedom Writers thinking about their future.” She wants all of her students to go to college, though many of them will be the first in their family to do so. She knows that the college application process is overwhelming and that many students face financial barriers to attending college, so she plans to pair students up with student mentors from her college class, take them on college tours, and bring in financial aid and test prep specialists. 

Senior Year—Fall 1997 Summary: "Student Diaries"

As their senior year begins, the students meet with their mentors from Ms. Gruwell’s college class. The students find their mentors inspiring. One student’s mentor, Cheryl Best, also grew up in the projects and had been kidnapped, raped, driven to a desert, and covered in acid. The student is inspired by Cheryl’s perseverance: “For a brief second, Cheryl made me feel as if I was a warrior, destined to make it out of the undeclared war that I call home, the projects” (196). Another student’s mentor arranges for him to visit the Jet Propulsion Lap in nearby Pasadena.