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JoAnn GoslinWriter Meredith Maran spent a year in the lives of three seniors in the Class of 2000 at Berkeley (California) High School. Her efforts led to Class Dismissed: A Year in the life of an American High School, a Glimpse Into the Heart of a Nation, an intriguing work of non-fiction. Because Maran focuses on Berkely as "the most integrated school in the country," much of the book is devoted to race relations, in particular how students, even in such a tossed-salad, multicultural environment, tend to self-segregate. What is hopeful is how their teachers attempt to cajole students out of their comfort zones.
A great deal of the book is devoted to the school's failures: A counselor's ineptitude shatters several students college hopes: arsons plague the school community. But much is made of its successes.Throughout the book are excerpts from the students' award-winning newspaper, the Berkeley High Jacket, as well as original works several students perform in poetry slams. The Jacket articles and editorials are thoughtful, well-written and hard-hitting. And the poetry is fist-in-the-face powerful; it truly reveals the students' inner lives. This is the reason to read Class Dismissed
— USA Today