Imagine hearing sirens right outside your window almost every night. Imagine watching from behind the curtain of your apartment as a drug bust happens right across the street. Imagine walking from the bus stop and constantly being paranoid about the drug dealers or being terrified that a gun could be pulled out at any second. This is how Cedric lives, living in one of the poorest parts of Washington D.C. “A Hope in the Unseen” is a story told about a young, African American boy who excels academically at his high school, even despite the many challenges that come along with living in the poor intercity of Washington D.C. Cedric is one of the brightest at Ballou High School, and he works incredibly hard to get good grades, but this does not guarantee his academic future. Even though Cedric is accepted into a summer program at MIT his junior year, he has a hard time adjusting and catching up with the other students as he has come from a very bad high school. After being accepted at Brown University a year later, Cedric discovers how hard it will be to let go of his past and adjust to his new surroundings. Even these great, new opportunities will expose Cedric to many more hardships than he can imagine.
This book, written by Ron Suskind, gives a unique perspective that is different from anything I have read before. The main character is a smart, but poor African American boy. The author does an incredible job writing from the perspective of the character, helping the reader relate to Cedric and his mother’s struggles, even if the reader has not experienced the same things. I thought it would be very hard to relate to the events and issues in Cedric’s life because our lives are very different. For example, living paycheck to paycheck or not having the money for the bus to get home is not something I have experienced, but the way the book was written helped me to relate much more to these issues than I expected to.
This book also explores racial issues and explains a lot about how Cedric feels in a predominantly African American high school and how different that environment is compared to when he starts going to school at a mainly white college. Once Cedric is accepted to the summer program for minorities at MIT, the book explains how Cedric feels coming from the “ghetto” part of the city while other minority students in the program came from wealthy families from better parts of cities or other rich areas of the country. This book does a great job of showing how Cedric struggles academically and socially once he goes off to college. At Brown, he struggles to relieve himself of his past and transition into the culture at Brown. This book gives a unique perspective on race and how Cedric feels and adjusts to the new things in his life. “A Hope in the Unseen” is a must-read for all students looking for a different perspective on poverty, race and a book about overcoming struggles and hardships.
Reviewed by Julianna Keller