Véronique had mentioned the book to me over a year ago. I haven't got around to getting it yet. But Brendan taped the movie for me and we watched it last night.
Freedom Writers is based on a true story, of a young teacher starting in a school in L.A. and facing troubled teenagers, gang violence and racial tension, and an education system that was writing those kids off without a second look. She managed to help them focus on what they had in common rather than on their differences, and, through reading and writing, helped them change their lives.
It has a somewhat happy ending (except for the character's personal life, which is in bits - poor MacDreamy is not getting any attention from his wife), and it does get a bit of the Hollywood "feel-good" treatment in some parts, but I felt it was quite an eye opener to what life is like in parts of L.A. - far from the American dream these kids were raised.
For more information about the Freedom Writers Foundation, check out their website.