On November 19, the book club met up at Tea Station in Chinatown to discuss The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by the Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell. During the month, the Very Awesome Girls were challenged to keep a diary, just like the Freedom Writers! Do you keep a diary, blog, or journal? What kind of things do you write about? Following the meeting, several of the girls wrote journal entries sharing their thoughts about the book, their lives, and everything in between. Enjoy some of their entries here:
Crystella: I recently read Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell. It touched on some pretty deep topics and got me thinking about the different experiences we all go through. The book gives a glimpse into the life of students living in inner cities and their struggles. It is definitely inspiring. I will admit that it does get a bit redundant because of the journaling style, which is my excuse for not finishing it. Crystella’s Score: 3/5
Sewit: This month we are reading the Freedom Writers Diary. We were also challenged to keep a month long diary/journal like the kids did in the book. I realized two things about myself while attempting this project; I can’t find the time to write every day and when I do, it sounds super emo! I admire the kids in the book for being able to stay tasked and write about the harshness in their lives without sounding whiny or “emo.” I feel inspired by these young adults, who changed their world one day at a time, and even by those who failed to do so, because at least they tried. While the writing wasn’t professional by any means, it was still enjoyable, and heartbreaking to read. Admittedly, a few of the stories made me cry, children should never had to put aside their own childhoods to deal with the failures of the adults around them. Midway through the book, I found myself unable to motivate myself to continue reading. At this point, the stories became monotonous. Of course, this is at no fault of the writers, perhaps the editors should have reduced the amount of diary entries compiled into the Freedom Writers Diary for a more maximum impact. I did however, finally finish the book by bribing myself with a lighthearted novel afterwards. Sewit’s Score: 3/5
Kimberly: Freedom Writers Diary is a compilation of diary entries from an English teacher and some her students. The earliest entries are from 1994, less than 20 years ago, but the students are experiencing their own war. Waged both on our streets and in schools, the students live through rampant gang violence and are killed for only the color of their skin. Mrs. Gruwell, the teacher, struggles to show teach these students the senselessness of perpetuating the violence and gang wars using real life examples, hoping to reach these students and showing them they can overcome it. Using Anne Frank, she shows them how tragic it is to kill for being different. Using Romeo & Juliet, she shows them how senseless it is to continue a feud. She introduces them to the person who hid Anne Frank, a modest woman who just wanted to do the right thing, and they learn they can make a difference if they tried. It’s 2013, and we like to think we’ve moved past racial killings and senseless violence, but we still have work to do. We need to remember that people are different, and different is OK. There’s no point to hating someone for not being exactly the same as us. Kimberly’s Score: 4/5
Very Awesome Girl’s Average Score: 3.5/5
For more information about the Freedom Writers or to purchase the book, check out the links below:
October 24th was the event for Haunted: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk. During the meeting, we each wrote down an adjective to describe the book, and then discussed which elements of the story best illustrated the word! Some of the words included: disgusting, sadistic, greedy, and confusing. Which words do YOU think best described the story and why? Special thanks to Very Awesome Girl Desiree for bringing Halloween candy and creepy, crawly treats to help celebrate the occasion! Extra thanks go out to Kimberly for sharing her thoughts on this month’s book. Check out her review below!
Review by Kimberly Hice
Haunted an uncomfortable novel. It is a story of what happens when a group of strangers are secluded in a writing retreat; three months without contact with the outside world, dedicated to crafting their masterpiece without interruption. In pieces alternating from present to the past, we learn the individual background of the strangers and their distressing reasons for wanting to hide in the retreat.
Palahniuk has crafted a story that is, at times, confusing to follow. If you can ignore the jarring shifts in story and random segues, every chapter is a look into the disgusting depths people will fall trying to obtain money, power, respect, or a thrill. It is a sadistic book with difficult to read subjects and occasional plot holes, but creative nonetheless. I have never squirmed out of my seat on the first chapter, but I had to physically turn away from the book because of how well it depicted a particularly horrifying scene. Haunted is something I recommend reading only a few chapters of at a time, with the expectation that it is not a happy story.
Kimberly’s Score: 3.5 / 5
Very Awesome Girl’s Average Score: 2.75 / 5
Learn more about Haunted: A Novel or purchase the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-A-Novel-Chuck-Palahniuk/dp/1400032822
Very Awesome Girls hosted their first annual charity car wash at the Pinball Hall of Fame on July 28, 2013. All proceeds from the event benefited the Shade Tree, a local shelter for women, children, and their pets. Aptly titled, “Car Wish,” guests had their cars washed and dried in exchange for five items from Shade Tree’s Urgent Needs List. Philanthropists could also make a monetary donation of at least $5 that would be used to purchase items off the non-profit’s wish list, such as toiletries, clothing, and food.
Good Samaritan and Marine Joshua Knefelkamp stopped by the event while on leave and was pleased with the results, stating, “The people were friendly and fast with the car wash.” He later joked that the 37 Very Awesome Girls worked so quickly and efficiently that he didn’t even have time to go into the Pinball Hall of Fame while waiting for his car to be cleaned! Volunteer Helen Medina commented, “I had a lot more fun than I thought I would washing cars in the heat. I was happy that so many people came to help out for an awesome cause. I didn’t expect to receive nearly as much donations as we got. I love doing these kinds of events because it just shows you how many people are willing to help out in their community.”
Some notable cars that came in to be washed included a Delorean,anda Jurassic Park styled jeep. Also recognizable was the heavily decaled Alternate Reality Comics car, belonging to local businessman Ralph Matthieu, an avid supporter of the Very Awesome Girls’ projects. Volunteer Lacey Schatz expressed the importance of spreading the word about the event, exclaiming, “I brought 4 cars alone with my big mouth, so I was proud of my friends and family.”
Head Geek in Charge Stephanie Payne congratulated attendees for their hard work and dedication on Sunday, posting on the Very Awesome Girl Facebook page, “At the end of the day, we washed almost 50 cars and have 3 full cars of donations. I also have $400 to go shopping with tonight for more supplies. I can not thank you enough for coming out to show support. Thanks to everyone!” Even the Shade Tree took to their computers to show their gratitude, tweeting, “Thank you @veryawesomegrls You girls ROCK! :-)” after the donations were delivered on July 30th.
To make a donation, click here.
2013 Car Wish