This book has gotten lots of press, and I myself have already talked about it on several blogs: Banned Books, Bella Novella, and Book Buddies. It's a very interesting book which reads quickly.
(p. 43) Renee [Firestone] ... came to speak with us at my table. She showed us the tattoo on her arm from Auschwitz. The tattoo looked like little numbers from a barcode. She told us how some of the needles they used were infected and that some people got skin diseases. She told us how one person sucked out the ink from her skin because the doctor who gave her the tattoo quietly told her to. If she had not sucked the ink out, she would have been sent to the gas chamber the next day, because her number was called.
(p. 93) Diary 47
As she [Zlata] was answering questions, a couple of adults asked her what ethnicity she was, Croatian? Muslim? Serbian? ... Zlata looked around stared at us, and simply said, "I'm a human being." ... Ever since that day I've tried not to accept society's labels, but to fight against them. ... Now if you ask me what race I am, like Zlata, I'll simply say, "I'm a human being."
(p. 94) Diary 48
Even though the Bosnian war was one of ethnicity and religion ...NOTE: This is a different student than the one above, who may not have known (it isn't clear) that "Muslim" is not a person's ethnicity.(pp. 95-96) also Diary 48
When Zlata wrote about Bosnian children becoming "soldiers" and the soldiers becoming "children," at first I didn't get her meaning. After hearing Tony's story, I understood. In war / the innocence of a child is lost, and though the soldiers feel theirs is a worthy cause, they behave like children when trying to achieve their goals. Knowing that a grown man entered a child's bedroom stealing his innocence, makes me sad. They stole his smile. Tony wears the permanent scars of war on his face, just as I wear the scars on my soul.NOTE: A soldier shot the child in the face while he slept in his own bedroom.(p. 98) It made me realize that senseless violence doesn't only happen in history books or movies.
(p. 110) Entry 5 - Erin Gruwell (about Bosnia)
There is still a lot of animosity and racial tension.
(pp. 132-133) Diary 64
The color purple was coming from my mother's eye where my stepdad had punched her. That's / when I began to understand that the color purple isn't just a color or the name of a book.
(pp. 198-200) Diary 101
I feel like crying and running out of this house and never returning. I have no idea where I am going to get $800! The landlord keeps on calling me and asking me if I have the money for rent. And just today, I received a letter in the mail saying that if I don't send in my car payment within five days my car will get repossessed. Tomorrow it is going to be two months since my cousin was murdered and my parents left the country. Since then, I've been the head of the household, taking care of my younger sister and myself, working my mom's job, baby-sitting to get extra / money, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, and trying to keep my grades up in school.
Yesterday, my science teacher told me that I'm failing her class and I need to pass the class to graduate. I feel so depressed, all my life I was an A and B student and now I am failing. I've never gotten an F in my twelve years of schooling. My teachers always told me I was an example for the rest of the students. I was always known as one of the most responsible students in my classes and I feel like I'm letting everyone down. I haven't been attending school on a regular basis either. When I do show up, my teachers look at me like they want to lecture me about how irressponsible they think I am. The teachers' disapproving looks really hurt. I feel like they've turned on me. I try to explain to them that I'm going though [sic] really bad times, but they don't seem to care. All that matters to them is that I am not doing their work. Most teachers don't want to be bothered with the reasons why. In my yearbook class, I volunteered to do the Freedom Writer page and I did. I did it at home, but when I finished it, it was after midnight. Unfortunately, the day it was due, the collection agency showed up at my door trying to get the money and I didn't make it to school. The following day I showed up at school and my advisor didn't accept my yearbook page. She said it was too late and someone else had to do it for me.
Those few months have been the worst of my whole life. My senior year was supposed to be the most fun of all my years, but I guess things happen for a reason. I hate to pour out all my problems to you, diary, but I have nowhere else to turn. After all, I always dreamed of going to college and being someone in life. Now I feel like I only have one alternative -- dropping out of high school and getting a full-time job to help my parents with all their payments until they come back home.
After my advisor rejected my yearbook page, it made me want to say "Forget this!" This is just enough to make me want / to quit everything I was doing. At the end of the day, out of desperation, I went to talk to Ms. Gruwell and my fellow Freedom Writers. I told them I felt like dying and was going to drop out of high school. I just broke down in tears. They just hugged me and listened. They didn't judge me or put me down like the others. I couldn't believe how understanding they were. They even convinced me to stay in school and offered to help me catch up on my assignments. Despite all this drama, I've decided not to give up. I'll get the money for rent somehow, I'll catch up in my classes and I'm even going to make time to go with everyone on a college tour with Ms. Gruwell. With such a loving "extended" family, I got back the strength to fight for my dreams: to graduate form high school and go to college.Bonnie's NOTE: This one is so sad. It will have to stand in for others equally sad, which I won't type up here on this blog, like the next one, about hazing.(pp. 214-216) Diary 111
[Enduring hazing in order to be popular]Bonnie's NOTE: I'll write about 1950s high school hazing later and add it here (or a link to what I write).(pp. 232-233) Diary 119
In my opinion Peter Maass is more than just a journalist, he's a hero ... I said, "I watch National Geographic on television and I don't understand how a journalist can just sit and watch an animal die? Is it the same when you're covering a war? Do you simply sit and watch people die?" The room became silent. Some / of the Freedom Writers were shocked by my question, and others seemed to be offended on Peter's behalf. But I just had to know.
After the silence, Peter began to explain how he often has to push his personal views aside and not get involved. He told us that anything he did other than being a journalist could upset some wicked balance. If he got involved in a dangerous situation, he would not only jeopardize the lives of the people he was trying to help, but his life, and the life of his crew as well. If he were to be killed, his death would ensure that there would be more Bosnias. After he was done explaining his role as a war correspondent, I felt content. Now I have an even greater respect for his courage. He wasn't letting evil prevail by watching and doing nothing. By writing about the images he saw in Sarajevo, he was ensuring that no one would deny that ethnic cleansing was taking place, and that thousands of innocent men were being taken to their deaths.