When Ms. Gruwell organizes a special “Toast for Change” event for her students, encouraging them to find a way to change and become a better person, this student notices that everyone else is crying but does not understand why. Ms. Gruwell then distributes copies of the books the class will read over the course of the semester, and this student is moved by the fact that these books are brand new. Ms. Gruwell explains that these books are about adolescents like them who go through difficult times and try to succeed.
The students’ emotion at being given a second chance and at receiving new books shows that Ms. Gruwell is doing something unprecedented in their lives: giving them the opportunity and the tools to believe in themselves, trusting that they are worthy of being taken seriously—both by themselves and by the people around them.
This student understands that Ms. Gruwell is giving her students an opportunity to turn their lives around for the better, committing to becoming the people they want to be. This student feels extremely grateful for this opportunity, and vows to become neither a drug addict nor to get pregnant at an early age and drop out of school—the very expectations that many people have of her.
This opportunity for change allows the students to trust in their own selves instead of what others say they are (or are not) capable of. The fact that these teenagers are so moved by this opportunity to change reflects the way in which their environments have corroded their highest hopes and dreams.