This student wakes up at five in the morning and, when s/he hits her alarm clock, realizes that s/he is sleeping on the floor. S/he goes to the bathroom and begins to cry in the shower. S/he goes on to explain that, during the summer, her/his mom and s/he were evicted from their home, because she did not have enough money to pay for the rent. The two of them were taken in by one of their pastor’s friends.
This student describes the emotional toll that poverty and homelessness can inflict. Despite somebody else’s kind gesture to take them in, it remains obvious that the student and her/his mother long to have a home of their own.
As s/he waits for the bus to go to school, s/he sees flashbacks of these events and feels that it must somehow be her/his fault, because s/he always asked for expensive gifts at Christmas. By the time s/he is on the second bus in her/his journey, s/he wonders why s/he is even going to school, since s/he cannot even tell her/his friends what happened over the summer. Unlike everybody else, s/he has no new outfit or haircut to show her/his friends, and feels ashamed.
This student’s sense of guilt about her/his family’s economic situation reflects the sadness and shame s/he feels from having lost their home. These thoughts reflect the adult responsibilities that have been placed on her/his shoulders because of these difficult circumstances. These adult concerns contrast sharply with the adolescent’s worry about not fitting in at school, showing the gap between her/his life in and outside of school.
By the time s/he reaches the classroom, extremely nervous, s/he realizes that her friends are still friendly and kind, and that s/he feels welcomed. S/he realizes that Ms. Gruwell gives her/him hope about the future and that being in her classroom makes her/him forget about all her/his problems and feel at home.
Ms. Gruwell’s class gives this student a sense of comfort and acceptance that s/he had not expected, proving that what happens in school can affect her/his general state of mind and happiness, making her/him more confident about the future.