When this student is given another student’s diary entry to edit, she is shocked to realize that she has been through a similar experience of sexual assault. She decides to leave the story unedited, as she finds that the words carry enormous power as they are. When Ms. Gruwell reads the story aloud, some girls leave the room, too upset to keep listening, but this student stays in the classroom. Despite the discomfort that this editing process entails, she feels grateful that other people might find comfort in her own story, and that she herself feels less alone after having read this one.
As students share their stories, they realize that part of the benefit they draw from making their emotions public comes from connecting to other people more intensely and realizing that they are not alone in what they have experienced. First-person narratives can be powerful enough to soothe—or, on the contrary, to shock—their listeners, as the audience vividly experiences a segment of the author’s life.