Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary is very personal as it discusses his education as an “at-risk” student. He was born to immigrant Italian Americans and they struggled their whole life. I am unsure if Mike Rose would have gotten as far at Loyola if he did not have such strong mentors as Jack McFarland?. It seems that there has always been a stigma behind the representation of “at-risk” students. We need to re-frame our thinking of these “at-risk” or remedial students because they are not stupid. They come from a different knowledge base and background. It can be hard for students fresh from high school to acclimate to the very different and adult expectations of the university setting. I think many beginning writers, especially those interested in the field of English, should read this book because Mike Rose is very relatable.
He brings the idea of remedial to a real life character- himself. That in itself is very bold. I know that I would have felt the same fear when he got his first award and it was misspelled as “Ruse.” I felt much the same way when I entered college and especially after I was accepted into Graduate school. I felt like a phony, I was just a high school drop out that somehow got accepted to a college.
I find it interesting that he started out writing poetry. I did as well, though I am too scared to share them with anyone. I also have short stories and a few articles in the works. Rose's writing process took a long time to form and without his mentors he may not have succeeded at Loyola or at UCLA. Upon entering UCLA you can really tell the disconnect between Rose's expectations and reality. We both began as basic writers and at-risk students but given the proper motivation and drive, it does not have to prevent you from being a great writer, it just means you will have to work harder for it. Rose paints a very sympathetic picture of how he dealt with struggling students. I am sure that his students (like mine) assume all that we write comes out perfect the first go round but in reality, what we write may be complete garbage but we just have to keep at it until it becomes a cohesive, well formed paper. I really liked this book because I knew that Mike Rose was a “super scholar” and important to read but I never really knew his background. This provides a refreshing hope for me that I am not a “ruse” of a student either and that I may have some good potential yet.