Book Reviews

A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind

Imagine hearing sirens right outside the window almost every night or watching from behind the curtain of one’s 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 is ridiculed by many of his classmates for working so hard, but this does not guarantee his academic future. Even though he is accepted into a summer program at MIT, he has a hard time adjusting and catching up to the other students, as he has come from a very bad high school. After being accepted at Brown University, 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. 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. It was very hard to relate to the events and issues Cedric has in his life because many people living in the Garnet Valley community have lives very different from Cedric’s. For example, living paycheck to paycheck or not having the money for the bus to get home is not something everyone in Garnet Valley has experienced, but the way the book was written helps one to relate much more to these issues than he or she may expect to.

This book also explores racial issues and explains a lot about how Cedric feels in a predominantly black high school and how different that environment feels compared to when he starts going to school at a mainly white college. Once Cedric is accepted to a 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 and members of the community looking for a different perspective on poverty, race, and a book about overcoming struggles and hardships.

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