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A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League Paperback – May 4 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 4 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767901266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767901260
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #670,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Ron Suskind won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1995 for his stories on Cedric Jennings, a talented black teenager struggling to succeed in one of the worst public high schools in Washington, D.C. Suskind has expanded those features into a full-length nonfiction narrative, following Jennings beyond his high-school graduation to Brown University, and in the tradition of Leon Dash's Rosa Lee and Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here, delivers a compelling story on the struggles of inner-city life in modern America. While it appears to have a happy ending (with Jennings earning a B average in his sophomore year), A Hope in the Unseen is not without a few caveats (at times, Jennings feels profoundly alienated from his white peers). Trite as it may sound to say, this book teaches a lesson about the virtue of perseverance, and it's definitely worth reading. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-Cedric Jennings is the illegitimate son of an off-and-on drug dealer/ex-con and a hardworking, badly paid mother; it is her single-minded vision to have the boy escape the mean ghetto streets unscathed. Cedric has listened to her and is, as the book opens, an A student at a run-down, dispirited Washington, DC, high school, where he treads a thin line between being tagged a nerd and being beaten by gang leaders. Suskind, a Wall Street Journal reporter, follows the African-American youth through his last two years of high school and freshman year at Brown University. Inspirational sermons at a Pentecostal church, guidance from his mother, a love of black music and singing, and a refuge in the logic of math combine with the young man's determination and faith in the future to keep him focused on his goal of a topflight college education. Despite many low moments and setbacks, Jennings's story is one of triumph within both cultures, black and white, which together and separately put tremendous obstacles in his path out of the inner city. It is a privilege and an inspiration for readers to accompany Cedric on part of his long, difficult journey to maturity. His journey continues at this moment, since he is now a senior at Brown this fall. YAs of any background will be introduced to new worlds here.
Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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A hip-hop tune bursts forth from the six-foot-high amplifiers, prompting the shoulder-snug slopes of black teenagers to sway and pivot in their bleacher seats. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
When I picked up this book, I didn't know what I'd think of it. It's not the normal kind of book I read, but as this month's book club selection, I gave it a chance. And I was quite impressed.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Cedric. Coming from middle-class white suburbia, but not far from Detroit, I was familiar of the struggle for inner-city kids to strive, but not with their perceptions of it. This book opened up my eyes to some realities and feelings, I never had thought about before. For instance, how it's not only very difficult to get a good education or good grades in the inner city, but how you're ostracized by your peers for trying.
This is a story of how Cedric ignored the taunting of fellow students, how he earned a chance at the Ivy league and then we learn the struggle doesn't stop there. For a boy who was salutatorian at his high school, his education level is still far below most of those in the Ivy leagues. The story is about his efforts to make the grade, fit in at school and become comfortable in his own skin. Just reading about his obstacles made me tired for him!
I enjoyed the book, especially how we did get to see the world by more than just Cedric's eyes, but also by his mothers, his fathers and friends. I think this gave the story a pick-me-up when otherwise it would have gotten boring. To anyone who is interested in this topic, I'd recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
While flipping channels one day on my TV, I stumbles upon a writer doing a reading of his Pulitzer Prize winning book entitled Hope in the Unseen. Moments later the main character from the book, Cedric himself, stepped to the mic and took questions about the experience, and the book itself. I was riveted! This was facinating! I ran out and got the book, and was literally swept away by the story, the strength, and the bitter sweetness of the struggle illustrated so well. This book was a profound experience for me. Not only does the author use words in the most beautiful manner, but the story is so unashamed in it's stark compassion and truth. There were so many parts of this book that brought tears to my eyes. I felt privilaged to catch a glimpse of the vulnerability of this courageous, flawed, strong, optimistic young man. This book gave me hope for all young people out in the world facing seemingly insurmountable odds. I wanted to stand up and cheer at the end, I felt like this kid was going to be better than "OK", that he was going to have a richly rewarding life because he wasn't afraid to push himself along his journey. Every teen in school should be required to read this book, and every adult should read it so that we can change the attitudes in this world one family at a time.
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Format: Paperback
A Hope in the Unseen tells the story of Cedric Jennings, a lower income black student who is stuck in a terrible neighborhood in Washington DC. Cedric strives to work hard in high school in hopes that he will find some way out of the "ghetto" lifestyle that has suffacated some many of his friends and family. Cedric's dream comes true when he is accepted into Brown University, but it comes with a cost. At Brown, Cedric has to deal with classes that he feels unprepared for, and feels alienated from the mostly white, upperclass student body at Brown. But Cedric is surely not a quiter. It is uplifting to see Cedric's personal story of success unfold page after page. At the end of the book, it seems that Cedric has come to terms with Brown Unversity, his religious beliefs, and most importantly, himself.
A few other reviewers have mentioned that Cedric's story is not particulary exceptional. This belief arises from the still quite controversial issue of affirmative action-like practices that effect acceptance to several colleges and universities around the country. Cedric has stellar high school grades and extra-curricular activies, but this would normally not be enough to grant acceptance into an Ivy League school for a white student with the same qualifications. The main issue addressed is that Cedric's SAT score of only about 960 would immediately disqualify him from Brown if he were white.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about this issue. Truthfully, this topic disturbed me when I applied to college. I knew several students that had worse GPAs and SAT/ACT scores than I, but still got into better schools. Most people didn't mention it much, but most people believed that the only reason why they got accepted was because they were black.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the antidote to the drive-by, dishonest reporting of a Jason Blair, Janet Cooke, or Mike Barnicle that has so discredited the journalist as social observer. Ron Susskind has written an exhaustively researched and lyrically powerful book of great breadth and subtle profundity. After four years of at least intermittent research, he has captured the internal essence and the external behavior of a cast of at least twelve different characters, the most important of whom is our hero, Cedrick Jennings, but which also includes his mother, his preacher, his father, and some of his friends and acquaintances at Ballou High School and then at Brown. Just the description of Jennings' afternoon with Justice Clarence Thomas or his interactions with the sixties radical Bernadine Dohrn and her son Zayd are worth the price of the book! More important, though, is Susskind's graphic description of the devastating chasm which separates the black ghetto kid and his world from that of the privileged Ivy League, a chasm which affirmative action only belatedly and inadequately begins to address.
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