The Freedom Writer’s Diary

In the nineties racial tension soared in Long Beach, California after the Rodney King riots. A young teacher named Erin Gruell knew that going into her job at Wilson High School, but she still wasn’t totally prepared. Not only did the students judge each other by race, but the teachers did as well. They would stereotype and discriminate against their own students because of race and wealth. Also, there was a status quo at Wilson High School among the teachers. New teachers didn’t get to stay with their classes for four years, nor were they allowed to organize field trips. But Erin was willing to disrupt the status quo, give up her nights, and even work two extra jobs if it meant helping her students in Room 204. Together she and 150 students made a book compiled of journal entries that told their stories during all four years of high school. A lot of stories are moving, and many tragic. Several of these students went through hell and for one reason or another ended up in the “dumb” class. But they ended up proving everyone wrong, though, including themselves. This was a very powerful book and is definitely a must-read for everybody. It’s hard to believe some of the things the students went through, and it’s amazing they were able to do so much, even getting the audience of the Secretary of Education and going to Anne Frank’s house. I think everyone should read this book because it has such a powerful message, and is extremely well written. Make sure you order it from your local bookstore: IndieBound

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(Netgalley Review) Running on Empty

River Daniels knew it wouldn’t end well when she agreed to get in a car with her controlling boyfriend to protect her friend, Justice. She just didn’t think it would end with him murdered and her on the run with her two best friends.

When you grow up on the wrong side of the town and you murder a rich football star in Texas, you know you’re not going to get a fair trial. So River and her two best friends run to Vegas to escape the law and make a plan. But as the police look for them, they know their time is running out. They need to find a way prove River’s innocence.

For the most part I liked this book. I liked the friendship between River and her friends, and I liked the love interest, Justice. But River irritated me a lot. She made quite a few stupid decisions and she jumped to conclusions a lot. I understand why she went with her boyfriend, even if he was really controlling, but it was stupid of her to actually believed he loved her. Also when she saw a letter from her dad to her mom saying that he missed her because he was at college, she jumped to the conclusion that she was just an unfortunate accident and her father never really wanted her, which didn’t make any sense to me because I just got the impression of a man in love. However, I thought her friends were pretty awesome. They were able to keep River moving forward and none of them thought twice about helping her. This book definitely deals with a lot of serious issues, but it’s still a fairly light read, all things considered. River’s character aside, I thought it was a light and entertaining read that’s a great gift for just about any teenage girl.

You can get a copy of Running On Empty from your local bookstore here: <a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781939392800?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;

I Am Malala– A Book Everyone Should Read

I Am Malala is the true story of a teenage advocate for education. She was shot by the Taliban because she believed everyone should have the right to education, and not just men. Now she and her family live in Birmingham, England where they continue to fight for education and wait until they can go back to their home in Pakistan.

This is an outstanding book. There is no other way to say it. Malala is a fantastic writer with a powerful message and story. As I was reading, I realized I’m pretty ignorant myself. I was surprised by how normal she and her friends are, despite the violence in their neighborhood. She likes the TV show Ugly Betty and has read Twilight. Also, Malala shows that Islam is a peaceful religion although many have twisted the philosophies. I loved the book, and it might be the best book I’ve read all year. I think this is a book that everyone should read.

Here’s a link to the book as well as to the Malala Fund, a fund set up to raise money for girls’ and womens’ education.

The Malala Fund:

http://malalafund.org/

I Am Malala:

<a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316322409?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;