The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. (The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell).
The Freedom Writers Dairy is a Number 1 New York Times Bestseller and it is easy to see why.
Written by teenagers during their four years of high school, it is easy to assume that it is like any other teen diary. It’s not. The entries are not named, but each is given a number. The diary entries show the lives of teenager who at the age of 14 or 15 have seen more dead bodies than a mortician. It tells of the life of a girl who was in a refugee camp, a boy who, when playing a game of Russian roulette, saw his friend shoot himself, a boy whose mother stood on the side of the road looking for food or money. Many of the teenagers who have shared their lives through the diaries have either been in jail or juvenile detention or know someone who has. Their English teacher, Erin Gruwell, or Mrs. G as she was called, has written her own diary entries which show her struggle to engage the “unteachable” students and then how she fought to keep them together for their junior and senior years.
This novel is not for the faint hearted. It discusses topics which many shy away from in a frank manner and it opens our eyes to the struggles of students and their young English teacher who are not dissimilar from ourselves who are trying to fit in. The best part of the novel perhaps are the ten new diary entries which show their lives after leaving the safe comfort of their room 203 and high school. The Freedom Writers Diary, in my opinion, is a stellar novel which confronts us in ways that you wouldn’t expect and gives us the challenge of changing our own lives for the better. It is a must read for any teenager.
Review by Nikita a member of the City of Tea Tree Gully’s youth book group Cover 2 Cover
Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame is like Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs but read rather than watched.
The book is set in 1912 country England and focuses on Maggie’s return from her year in Paris to a money-troubled Wentworth Hall; her travels have changed her greatly.
Maggie’s mum is eager to marry her off, hopefully to Teddy Fitzhugh. After the death of their father Teddy and his twin sister Jessica went to live at Wentworth, where they must stay until they turn 18 and are allowed their diamond-filled inheritance.
Lila, Maggie’s younger sister, wants to be noticed especially since their older brother Wesley went to university.
Due to the money problems, some of the staff’s jobs are unsure and this threatens to change the way of life for many people living in Wentworth Hall.
Throughout the book the chapters are told by a different character, which helps you establish their personality and views of things. Sometimes writing like that doesn’t work, but it flows and works in this book.
Every couple of chapters there is a story insert, like an article from a newspaper back in the 1910’s. These extra features basically sum up the chapters you just read. They also help to extenuate the characters’ worst personality traits or really push what the author wants you to think the character is like.
I found these chapters to be unnecessary and annoying. The story is easy to follow, so you already have an idea of what the characters are like and what is going on without the reminder.
Overall I would give the book a 3.5 out of 5. It is pretty generic for its theme but has good character development and a nice writing style.
Written by Kelly – a member of our youth book club Cover2Cover.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is about a sixteen year old girl named Tessa Gray who travels to England, where something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld. Tessa seeks refuge with the Shadowhunters who are a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of evil demons. As she is drawn deeper into their world she finds herself torn between her two best friends and quickly realizes that love can be very dangerous.
Clockwork Angel was an extremely easy read and well written. The characters are incredibly believable and it’s effortless to relate to what happened, what they did and how they dressed. The plot was interesting because there is a complicated romance between one girl and her two best friends. Another captivating aspect of this book is the diverse genres, romance mixed with supernatural creatures. Clockwork Angel is not purely about love and romance there are many dramatic and distressing twists and turns in the plot.
Overall, I could not fault the plot of Clockwork Angel. I quickly made a connection with the characters and plot early into the story. I really enjoyed this book because it included all of the aspects I enjoy in a good read – romance, supernatural creatures and a bit of drama. I would rate this book five out of five stars.
Reviewed by Jade, a member of the youth book club Cover2Cover.