A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League

( 51 )


It is 1993, and Cedric Jennings is a bright and ferociously determined honor student at Ballou, a high school in one of Washington D.C.’s most dangerous neighborhoods, where the dropout rate is well into double digits and just 80 students out of more than 1,350 boast an average of B or better. At Ballou, Cedric has almost no friends. He eats lunch in a classroom most days, plowing through the extra work he has asked for, knowing that he’s really competing with kids from other, harder schools. Cedric Jennings’s ...

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A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League

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It is 1993, and Cedric Jennings is a bright and ferociously determined honor student at Ballou, a high school in one of Washington D.C.’s most dangerous neighborhoods, where the dropout rate is well into double digits and just 80 students out of more than 1,350 boast an average of B or better. At Ballou, Cedric has almost no friends. He eats lunch in a classroom most days, plowing through the extra work he has asked for, knowing that he’s really competing with kids from other, harder schools. Cedric Jennings’s driving ambition–which is fully supported by his forceful mother–is to attend a top-flight college.

In September 1995, after years of near superhuman dedication, he realizes that ambition when he begins as a freshman at Brown University. In this updated edition, A Hope in the Unseen chronicles Cedric’s odyssey during his last two years of high school, follows him through his difficult first year at Brown, and now tells the story of his subsequent successes in college and the world of work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A beautiful book of a heroic American struggle."
—David Halberstam in USA Today

"[An] extraordinary, formula-shattering book."
New York Times Book Review

"A story of sheer human grit that should be read by others as example and inspiration."
—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

"Absolutely gripping.  A sort of suspense novel of the human psyche. . . . It's beyond good, it's really extraordinary."
—Walter Kirn, National Public Radio

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767901260
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 63,128
  • Lexile: 1080L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Suskind is a staff writer for the Wall Street Journal. In 1995, he won the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for a two-part series about the high-school years of Cedric Jennings. Suskind and his family live in Washington, D.C.

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Read an Excerpt

The next morning blooms into a radiant, cloudless day, as it ought to be. Freshmen arrive for orientation, ferried by a grand procession of proud parents.

Barbara, tired from the drive, gets a late start and, before long, the day feels harried. It's nearly noon by the time they get to College Hill, a steep slope on top of which Brown sits like a cloud city above the gritty ethnic enclaves, legendary Italian restaurants, and aging factories of Providence. "I wanted to get this all done early. Now look," she says, sitting in the van near the Brown student union as Cedric, looking at a checklist in his orientation packet, slips out to go get his temporary student ID. "Don't be all day, Lavar," she calls after him, all business, "I gotta get back home."

Cedric has drawn a desirable dorm, Andrews Hall. It's a three-story brick horseshoe on the quieter Pembroke side of campus that was renovated over the summer and now boasts fresh carpeting and new paint. From the Andrews parking lot, they unload the van swiftly, with Cedric helping on this end. While Barbara glances tersely at other parents—mostly white, of course—unloading Lexuses and Range Rovers and Volvo wagons, she notices that Cedric seems to be increasingly relaxed—smiling at some of the other incoming freshmen and offering unsolicited greetings.

"These dorms are nice," Barbara notes over her shoulder to Cedric, who is dragging a trunk full of linens behind her across the second-floor hallway carpet. Remembering Cedric's complaints about last summer's dorms, she adds, "And a lot nicer than MIT, ain't it?"

"Lot nicer," he says, almost shouting. "This place is nothing like MIT."

A small paper square taped to the door of room 216 says "Cedric Lavar Jennings and Robert Burton." Cedric fumbles with the key and opens the heavy wooden door.

"Wow," he says.

"Hmmm, very nice," Barbara confirms.

His roommate, Rob, has already been here, settled in and gone. Barbara moves to the empty bed and starts unpacking while Cedric goes back downstairs for the rest. She carefully places a dozen new pairs of underwear, a dozen new pairs of socks, and six new T-shirts (clothes bought with money she didn't have to spare) onto closet shelves, and she begins a ritual that she figures is being repeated at this moment in hundreds of rooms across the campus: a mother making her child's bed for the last time. It's not like Barbara made his bed back home, she muses, but it doesn't matter. She made a thousand beds before she was twenty, and now she meticulously presses flat a fold of sheet, tucking it tight. Cedric returns, carrying his CDs, and crosses the room to check the unfamiliar titles in Rob's collection as Barbara lays the blanket and smoothes it.

With the van unpacked and their stomachs growling, Barbara decides they should walk to one of the dining halls for lunch. Soon, she and Cedric are strolling the campus, through archways and across neatly edged rectangles of thick grass.

While Barbara is delighted that Cedric, so tightly wound yesterday, is now buoyantly bouncing as he walks, an unwanted self-consciousness is welling up inside her. She'd rather not notice the cars other parents are driving, the clothes they're wearing, and the ease with which they move. She knows, of course, that the typical Brown parents probably went to college and on to some professional status that their offspring, by virtue of this Ivy League acceptance, are now bounding toward. Here, it's a day for her to be proud, but she can't help staring at them—these smiling, polished people—and overhearing their jaunty melody of generational succession: a child's footsteps following their own, steps on a path that leads to prosperity's table and a saved seat right next to Mom and Dad.

Barbara, watching Cedric demolish a ham sandwich at the dining hall, tries to figure out what she brings to this place, where she fits. It's her day, too, she resolves, looking across a dining hall filled with effusive, chatty parents and freshmen, though her song is flat and elemental—an old, familiar harmony, really, about sacrifice and denial and a child venturing where the parent never could.

"Really is a whole 'nother world up here," she says quietly across the table as Cedric reaches for her untouched sandwich, barely noticing that she's there. In that instant, she realizes how afraid she is that she might lose him.

It's almost two o'clock when they head back to the dorm. Near the new, soaring brick medical school, Cedric spots a bumper sticker on a parked car: "Your Honor Student Was Beaten Up By My Kid" it says, a play on the honor student bumper stickers that are especially popular in the inner cities.

"That car must be from D.C.," he jokes, and Barbara puts her arm around him as they laugh.

A tall, thin Caucasian girl with hazel-blue eyes, a row of earrings, and a shaved head strolls by. "Isn't that awful," Barbara murmurs to Cedric after the girl passes. "Must be chemotherapy." He nods sympathetically.

A few blocks ahead, passing a lovely Victorian house just north of Andrews dorm, Barbara admires the wide, circular porch and an apple arbor alongside it. "That fruit could feed a lot of hungry people," she says as they walk the last few feet to the dorm. Inside Cedric's room, they're puttering around when the door opens. It's a smallish white boy with dark hair, a faint Van Dyke beard, and sandals.

"You must be Rob," says Cedric with a wide smile.

"You must be Cedric," he echoes back in a soft, cheery voice.

Barbara nods a hello at him and rises from Cedric's bed. She knows that the time has come. In a moment, she and Cedric go down the elevator and outside and begin walking the last block to the van. She doesn't want to lead and senses that he doesn't either, so their pace slows until they're almost weaving—like they're not going anywhere, really. But as he looks down at his feet, she's able to glimpse the side of his face without him knowing. And Barbara Jennings can't help but hear echoes of her earlier self, holding a baby a little too tight, saying, "I'll save you, and me, too."

At the bumper of the van, he looks up.

"You be good, okay?" she says.

"Yeah . . ."

"Come here," she finally says, holding her arms out wide, and the two fall together as she presses her cheek hard against his.

"Trust in God, let Him guide you," she whispers.

"I will, Ma."

They hug for a good, long time. She's not been a mother to show him much physical affection in these latter years. The situation demanded strength. She had to be a father, too, as best she knew how, and maybe that hardened her touch. So, as they pull apart, she finds that her cheeks are flushed. She shakes it off.

"Okay, now," Barbara says. She reaches into the back seat and gives him a Frito-Lay assortment pack, uneaten from the trip. He nods. She gets into the front seat and waves once, and Cedric begins ambling down the hill toward the dorm.

"Wait!" She spots his deodorant in the space between the seats and yells through the open window. He runs the few feet back to get it.

"All right, 'bye," she says, and he turns, briskly walking back to the dorm as she watches him in the rearview. He doesn't look back.

Barbara is quiet as the van eases into gear and drifts onto the quiet street. She told herself she wouldn't cry, so she tries to occupy her eyes, looking at things she passes by. That Victorian would sure be nice, she thinks to herself, heading past the wraparound porch.

But something's wrong. She snaps to attention. The money!

Next thing, she's back in the dorm parking lot and then running up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

The door to room 216 bursts open. "I forgot this," Barbara says, panting, and squeezes three neatly folded twenties into her son's hand. Already, though, the room belongs to Cedric Lavar Jennings, a Brown freshman, and that nice white boy on the other bed. She feels suddenly unsure. Cedric is smiling broadly but like he's looking right through her. "Well, good-bye Lavar," she says simply and slips out. Doesn't hug him this time. She'd think a lot about that later.

It takes a moment for the heavy oak door to swing on its hinge. And when it slams, it's like a thunder clap, leaving her alone with the smell of fresh paint.

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Reading Group Guide

1. At Frank W. Ballou Senior High, students learn a daily lesson: "distinctiveness can be dangerous, so it's best to develop an aptitude for not being noticed." To what extent does Cedric Jennings heed this lesson? What are the steps he takes to avoid attention from the "crews"? What are the ways in which he defies them? How would members of your book group have responded in Cedric's situation?

2. Teachers and administrators at Ballou, frustrated with the lack of positive role models for students, erect a giant "Wall of Honor" to commemorate those students who manage to maintain a B average or better. Principal Washington offers $100 checks to students who score straight A's. Why do these measures backfire? How else might the teachers and administrators more effectively boost good students' self esteem?

3. In many ways, Phillip Atkins represents the path not taken by Cedric. Phillip has employed his wit and intelligence not for grades but for popularity, humor, and social skills. What are the sacrifices each one makes to stay on his path? What are the rewards? How do these sacrifices and rewards change over time?

4. Phillip's father, Israel Atkins Sr., advises his children to "set goals so they're attainable, so you can get some security." What do you think about this "shoot low" strategy? What are its strengths and weaknesses, especially when applied to youths living in impoverished and crime-ridden communities?

5. Why do you think Bishop C.L. Long's brand of Apostolic Pentecostalism is so successful among the poor and lower middle class blacks of southeast Washington, D.C.? How do his church and his preaching address their needs? How does his fundraising technique prey on their particular fears? Does it bother you that he drives a Cadillac, and later, a Rolls Royce, or do you feel he deserves such material rewards for his hard work?

6. Mr. Taylor misquotes Hebrews II:I as "the substance of faith is a hope in the unseen." How does his misquotation inspire Cedric more than the actual words of the Bible? What other people throughout history have been motivated by a hope in the unseen? What kind of place is Cedric hoping for? Does he ever find it?

7. How does Cedric feel about his father at the beginning of the book? How do his feelings change through the course of the book? What role does his father play in the formation of Cedric's drive to succeed?

8. Why does Clarence Thomas advise Cedric to avoid Afro-American studies and ethnic identity groups while at Brown? Do you agree with Thomas? To what extent does Cedric heed his words? What do you think Cedric's attitude toward the subject would have been had he come of age when Clarence Thomas did?

9. How are the challenges faced by Cedric at Ballou different from those faced by his female academic rival, LaCountiss Spinner? How have Cedric's difficulties strengthened his ambitions?

10. What are some of the ways in which Cedric's dorm unit is like a foreign land to him? How does he decipher its codes?

11. What are some of the challenges that Brown poses to Cedric's identity as an urban black? What sort of balance does Cedric strike between "selling out" to the white establishment, and succeeding on his own terms? How does he manage to negotiate a truce between fitting in and being himself?

12. How is Zayd Dohrn actually better equipped than his radical, activist parents at negotiating the racial divides of today? Why do you think he is the first Brown student Cedric opens up to?

13. Cedric overhears a white professor, in discussing affirmative action, saying, "Are we really doing a service to young people to boost them above their academic level and then not offer the services they need? Because who really can? There's no choice but laissez-faire, sink or swim. They should be going to middle-rung universities." Do you agree? Does Cedric receive any special support services at Brown? Is he offered too many breaks? Not enough? Would he have been better served at a middle-rung university?

14. How do the same behavioral patterns that kept Cedric alive and intact at Ballou backfire at Brown? How does he learn to "unfold" and open himself up to his new community?

15. What kind of transformation did Cedric's faith undergo as a result of his first year at Brown? How has his faith helped him in the past? How will it help him in the future?

16. Ninety-two-year-old Miriam Korb remarks to Cedric, "I sure would like to meet your mother. She must be quite a woman." Do you agree? How so? How would you describe Barbara Jennings' relationship with her son? On the eve of eviction, Barbara confesses to Cedric that she's "let you down again, Lavar." How has she let him down in the past? How has she saved him in the past?

17. In the Author's Note, Ron Suskind says he hopes readers will adopt "the ideal that racial distinctions can be bridged by shared understanding." To what extent do you think the racial divide in America can be bridged? Has Suskind, a white man in his thirties, crossed that divide?

18. The book never mentions Cedric's numerous interactions and interviews with the author. What sort of effect might Ron Suskind's research have had on his subjects, particularly Cedric? Why do you think Suskind chose not to include himself in the book? Do you wish he had?

19. One third of the book is told from the perspective of characters other than Cedric. What is the effect of changing the narrative voice? Why might the author have done so?

20. Evaluate the public schools in your community. How would Cedric have fared with your neighborhood teachers? How has A Hope in the Unseen affected your perception of your local public-education system?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 51 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 51 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 19, 2012

    Jameccia Lewis Mrs.Stewart AP Language and Composition Sep, 19 2

    Jameccia Lewis Mrs.Stewart AP Language and Composition Sep, 19 2012
    A great book that I read in my AP Language and Comp. class was A Hope in the Unseen, by Ron Suskind. This book is about an incredible boy named Cedric and his rode to success though education. Also over coming many obstacles that he faced throughout his life. From poverty stricken life, bad neighborhood, and many conflicts with himself that anyone can relate to. So that’s why this story deserves a five star rating.
    To further explain I really enjoyed reading A Hope in the Unseen. My favorite chapter of A Hope in the Unseen is chapter 14, “Meeting the Man”, because I can really relate to that chapter. There was a time when I lived with my grandma and she was having a hard time paying the rent, and we had to move. But just like Cedric it showed me to strive for greatness so I will not have to experience something like this ever again. Also one chapter that I could not relate to was chapter 7 “Good-Bye to Yesterday “. This is why this is was my least favorite chapter, because I never experienced going to college. However I enjoyed A Hope in the Unseen, and Ron Suskind did a great job telling a story that many people can relate to.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    A great read.!

    Kennedy Perry Ms. Stewart AP Language and Composition September 19, 2011 A Hope in the Unseen is a compelling novel by Ron Suskind that my AP Language and Composition class read. It is an exceptional read. It tells the story of a young man named Cedric Jennings growing up in Southeast Washington D.C. It follows him throughout his last two years of high school and his first year of college. It portrays his struggles, and how he pushed past being poverty stricken and having an incarcerated father to reach his goals. He also had to push through the barriers of being a young, African American, or so he thought. Cedric had to work hard for everything he wanted, and in the end, his hard work paid off. This book is a great read. Ron Suskind did a wonderful job in conveying Cedric's story. One truly understood everything Cedric went through to get to where he wanted to be. It is a genuine five-star read. A Hope in the Unseen was a great novel. The story of Cedric's life was quite intriguing, and it was something that I could relate to. The fact that I can relate to this novel on a personal level caused it to be quite enjoyable for me to read. The chapter that I relate to and like the most was chapter four: "Skin Deep". This is so because I, too, attended a summer program at a University, and I felt like I was always ten steps behind the other students. The chapter that I do not seem to relate to was chapter 5: "To Him Who Endureth". This is so because I have never had the privilege of giving a high school graduation speech, which the chapter seems to be centered around. However, due to Suskind's writing style, I understand Cedric's emotions during that period of time and the concept behind his speech. Suskind's use of imagery and pathos enabled me to sympathize with Cedric while seeing the details of his story unfold before my eyes. Suskind made it so that I never wanted the story to end. He created, by far, the best piece of literature that I have ever read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

    Highly recommend

    Book was awesome; the library binding horrible.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2012

    A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind is a great novel that I read

    A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind is a great novel that I read my junior year for AP language and composition class. A Hope in the Unseen is about a boy named Cedric Jennings who was raised in Washington D.C. Cedric goes to a school named Ballou, and in Ballou he is one of the smartest students there. Once Cedric went to Ballou he wasn’t as smart as the other students so he would always struggle to keep his grades good and try to be as smart as the other students. Cedric doesn’t only deal with struggles at school, but also at home. His mother would struggle so hard to try to pay their bills and do everything on her own to raise her children because their father isn’t around. This novel is very inspiring. It inspires students to never give up on your dreams and just keep trying. You should never give up because at the end your hard work could pay off like Cedric’s hard work paid off.
    Overall this book was one of my favorite novels I have ever read. I don’t really like to read books but this novel really caught my attention and I found it very interesting. I would recommend this book to my friends, so they can be inspired and so they can know to never give up on their dreams. My favorite chapter in the novel would have to be Chapter four “Skin Deep”. It was my favorite chapter because it was something I can relate to. This past summer I took Honors algebra 2, math has always been one of my favorite subjects and I would usually be the smartest one in my math class but when I went to take the class there were people who were smarter than me and there were things in there that I did not understand but they did. Like Cedric, I too felt like I was 10 steps behind the other students. My least favorite chapter would be chapter 14, “MEETING the MAN”. In chapter 14 Cedric and his mother get evicted from their home because they have not had many to pay off bills, but luckily a friend lended them money. Cedric gets angry at his mother because she did not tell him, he doesn’t speak to her for weeks. Overall this novel was great. It was very interesting and I would rate it a 4 out of 5.

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  • Posted September 19, 2012

    I have read a novel by Ron Suskind called A Hope in The Unseen.

    I have read a novel by Ron Suskind called A Hope in The Unseen. I started to read the book because it was assigned by my teacher in my high school. The novel is about a young black man living in Washington, D. C, 's most dangerous neighborhood. Cedric Jennings is the main character of the novel. Cedric is an intelligent and honor student. The high school he goes to is called Ballou, where most students dropout of school or are not academically well. The main character's hard work payed off because he was excepted to Brown University. The novel goes through the difficulties a poor young black boy can experience and feel. Cedric is faced with these challenges with himself during the last two years of Ballou High school and freshmen year of Brown University. My rate is 4 out of 5 stars.
    I have enjoyed reading A Hope in The Unseen by Ron Suskind. I liked this novel. You will not be able to put the book down until your done reading it. My favorite chapter of the novel is Chapter 13, A Place Up Ahead. This chapter is about Cedric doubting his academic abilities. When Cedric receives his grade on his Calculus final, he can't believe it. Cedric got a 98 on the Calculus final. Cedric was sure he was going to to fail. I liked this scene because Cedric has finally triumphed academically and became confident in himself. Suskind writing style deserves a high rating. The author would keep you interested. The novel is not confusing. It has a good flow. I liked the imagery, you can picture everything. The tone of characters would change throughout the chapters. Suskind used pathos with the characters by appealing emotionally. It had dictions and metaphors. For these reasons A Hope in The Unseen by Ron Suskind is a great novel.

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    Autumn Jones Mrs. Williams AP Language & Composition Septem

    Autumn Jones
    Mrs. Williams
    AP Language & Composition
    September 14, 2012
    A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind is a great inspirational book about a young African-American boy named Cedric Jennings trying to make it to an Ivy League college. This story takes place during the mid-1990s, which means it is not so much out of date. A Hope in the Unseen tells a story about Cedric growing up in a dangerous neighborhood of Washington D.C. attending a high school which the dropout rate is very high. Cedric faced many obstacles with succeeding from his peers, atmosphere, and some of the adults in his life. A Hope in the Unseen is an appealing novel that grasps hold of its readers on its intriguing story. I have read A Hope in the Unseen in my AP Language and Composition class. Even though reading A Hope in the Unseen was a class assignment, I would have read it during my spare time. Overall, I will give the novel five stars!
    A Hope in the Unseen is a fascinating book which is unlike others I have read. Ron Suskind writing style is interlocked with Cedric. For instance, Suskind writes as though he shares a similar interest or emotion as Cedric does. When Cedric moods changes so does the writing of the author. Suskind expresses this technique in the chapter “Meeting the Man” which is my favorite chapter in the book. Suskind describes many characters in the novel to show an importance to Cedric and how they may have changed things for him. Throughout the book it describes the progression and growth of Cedric into a young, intelligent man. A Hope in the Unseen is a book that many should read because it gives readers a lesson without them realizing it. A Hope in the Unseen is a phenomenal novel! It is such an amazing book which is why I have given it five stars.

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    A Hope in the Unseen

    A Hope in the Unseen is a novel written by the author Ron Suskind. This novel is primarily about an immigrant boy’s, Cedric, life

    as he went through different obstacles including both school and social status. The title, A Hope in the Unseen, opens the reader’s

    imagination as to what the depth of its true meaning could be. Whether it be hope for the future, or faith in a higher power of some sort,

    Suskind does a great job at giving his readers a range of thinking while reading the novel. This makes the fact that reading the novel

    was originally a homework, assignment less relevant. So overall, I would give this novel a solid four stars out of five, which in my book,

    is considered a very good read.

    So, needless to say, I enjoyed the novel as a whole. The fact that Suskind makes the novel seem so current, and relatable, makes

    it that much easier to get into A Hope in the Unseen. I especially like the way that Suskind somehow puts his readers into the story,

    even though he uses third person throughout the novel. Of the novel, my favorite chapter that, I would have to say, is chapter 13 “A

    Place Up Ahead.” This is mainly because based off of reading the novel, this chapter marks the turning point in Cedric’s life. Suskind

    uses a selective choice of words that are intellectual, but at the same time understandable, which helps the reader connect to the

    novel in a deeper way than most novels. Also, though the novel focuses on Cedric as the main character, Suskind does a good job at

    fitting all of the other characters’ backgrounds in, as well as making the reader feel as if he or she is included in the story right along

    with them. Suskind also uses pathos throughout the novel when tell of the hardships that Cedric goes though. This clearly exhibits

    Suskind’s talent and skill as a writer. So, in closing, I give A Hope in the Unseen by Rob Suskind a high rating, and deem it a very

    good read.

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    I read A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind in my AP Language and

    I read A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind in my AP Language and Composition for several weeks. The novel follows Cedric Jennings through his last two years of high school and his first year of college. The hardships he had to go through to be able to get out of a bad neighborhood. The stress of being in an Ivy League School and having to balance his social life and his classes.
    From reading the first chapter I knew I would enjoy the novel. I enjoyed reading about certain things that I have not experienced or will experience. The chapter I least enjoyed was the first chapter “Something to Push Against” because it showed that being smart and trying hard is something to be a scared of. My favorite chapter would be the “Epilogue” because it gives you small looks into Cedric’s and his parent’s future. It shows that trying hard will lead to success. Overall I enjoyed the book very much and give it a 5-star rating.

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    Ron Suskind is a prize winning author. He has written five

    Ron Suskind is a prize winning author. He has written five books. He also has published many articles. A book he is well known for is The Wall Street Journal. A book of his I am most familiar with is A Hope in the Unseen. This novel was a reading requirement my junior year of high school. This novel is a pleasurable read. I would rate A Hope in the Unseen a four-star.
    Though this novel was a reading requirement for my AP Language and Composition class I would have enjoyed it just as well if it was an at home read. I enjoyed every stage of this book. My favorite chapter of this novel is chapter 12, "Let the Colors Run". This is my favorite chapter because the main characters mother gets an eviction notice for her apartment. This whole chapter will keep you on edge wanting to read more. The main character is very relate able. He goes through multiple struggles both physical and mental. He goes from a boy with no confidence to a proud young man. Suskind uses pathos throughout his novel. He reveals the struggles that many people go through today. He does this so the reader can identify with the characters and their lives. When you read this story you will constantly be reminded of things you may personally connect with. A Hope in the Unseen is an amazing novel. This novel is extraordinary!

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    In my AP Language and Composition class, I had the privilege to

    In my AP Language and Composition class, I had the privilege to read the novel A Hope In the Unseen written by Ron Suskind. From the moment I picked up the novel I couldn't put it down. Ron Suskind tell the story of a young man named Cedric Jennings struggle of growing up in a poverty stricken neighborhood. Cedric faces many obstacles during his last two years of high school and first year of college. Cedric goes to a high school in southeast Washington D.C. at poorly educated school. During his high school years he is depicted as one of the smartest kids to attend the school. Cedric in some way views the school as too easy and does extra work to keep up with his competition. When Cedric finally gains his diploma and attends college, he finds it extremely difficult and wants to give in. Cedric keeps his head strong and works through the struggles of college, and all his hard work pays off.
    I find this novel as a very unique read. It is very easy to understand, due to the fact it is set in a modern day society. Suskind use of imagery makes it a hands down 4 out of 5. The way Suskind throws multiple images in your head and make you visualize every scene as if you were there is a good reason why is book is a must have. One of my favorite chapter that always seems to capture my attention is chapter 2, "Don't Let Them Hurt Your Children". This particular chapter takes away from the hardships of Cedric and focus mostly on his mother, Barbara Jennings.The reason why this chapter is so memorable, is because it tell another struggle of a different character before Cedric was even in the picture. The chapter just shows off how great Suskind writing skills can be by telling another side of the story, and how he use Pathos to relate to the character of Barbara even more. This might be a great novel but one of my cons of it is, the fact some chapter just jump from event to event not giving you a break to process what just previously happened. Other than that this book should be rented or bought today. I promise you, you won't be wasting your time reading the novel.

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    A Hope in the Unseen, written by Ron Suskind, tells a marvelous

    A Hope in the Unseen, written by Ron Suskind, tells a marvelous story about a young man named Cedric Jennings and his road to the Ivy league. Born into a life on the line of poverty, Cedric has faced struggles that shape him into the young man he is. As he finishes up his last two years of high school and begins his first in an Ivy league school, Cedric will face greater challenges and decisions that will lead him into becoming a successful man. Even though this novel was read for A.P. Language and Composition, I enjoyed it greatly and I give it a 4 out of 5.
    I had many likes, and few dislikes for the novel. One of them being that Cedric's story was so relatable; somethings that Cedric faced found its connections in my life. One example is the chapter Skin Deep. In this chapter, Cedric is attending a program at MIT that he has been dreaming about for so long. However, when he gets there he realizes that the kids he meets seem to be already five steps ahead of him. At times, I feel that I am the student that seems to be fifty steps behind everyone else, and when Cedric talks about that, I really felt that I could relate. Another thing I liked about the novel was the different tones the author used to make the mood of the situation more understandable. I also liked that the author used pathos to help tell the story and make it more believable, especially with the more serious areas the novel covers. I had one dislike though about the characters, and maybe this is a more personal thing. I really didn't like how Cedric's mother didn't seem to develop as a character. Other than that, the overall was story was pretty great.. A Hope in the Unseen tells Cedric's story in a unique way,and it gives the reader an inspirational experience

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    Ron Suskind, author of the book A Hope in the Unseen and re

    Ron Suskind, author of the book A Hope in the Unseen and reporter for the Wallstreet Journal, is a very exceptional author. I read this book for school purposes in my AP Language and Composition class. The struggle of the main character, Cedric Jennings, is like the struggle of many other single Black families today, which really hits home for many black readers. The book shows Cedric's many struggle through this world and how, even with his many obstacles, he manages to become great in his own eyes. This is an outstanding way to show the less fortunate people in America that there is always hope even though you might not realize it right away. This book rightfully deserves a 4.% out of 5 stars.
    I really enjoyed this book. It was such an incredible story of success in this modern age. It really touched me to see how one person can start with nothing but pure will and intuition and work their way to the top and gain success through hard work. My favorite chapter is the chapter titled "A Place Up Ahead". this chapter is my favorite becauseit shows how the "Tail can become the Head" with an adequate amount of work. My least favorite chapter is the chapter titled "Back home". This is my least favorite because it is the chapter that has the least amount of impact on his success. Although the book is a long read, Ron Suskind's writing style is greatly exceptional. He is a very articulate author and uses a very advanced vocabulary to express his writing. Overall his writing deserves a rating of 3.5 out of 5. If you are not a person who loves long reads, I would not recommend this book. If you like articulate lond read books this book is perfect for you.

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  • Posted September 17, 2012

    A Hope in the Unseen by Rob Suskind is a book I read my senior y

    A Hope in the Unseen by Rob Suskind is a book I read my senior year for an advance placement English class. The book is about a boy named Cedric Jennings who lives in Washington D.C. Cedric, a minority living in a single parent home is forced to face many hardships growing up. Although Cedric is very intelligent and received good grades his home life is not the greatest. Cedric’s father is incarcerated while he is growing up, his mother struggles to keep up with their bills, and the neighborhood he lives in is not the best. Cedric, number two at Ballou high school later realizes he is not as smart as he believed he was. Most of the students at Ballou do not apply themselves; therefore Cedric does not have to work very hard for his number two spot. The transformation from Ballou to Brown University is something Cedric struggles with. Despite his struggles Cedric does well for himself in the end. On a scale of 1 to 10 I give A Hope in the Unseen a 9.
    Usually I do not enjoy the books I read in English. However I enjoyed A Hope in the Unseen very much. The book is remarkably inspirational. Cedric’s story proves that no matter what your situation is or where you come from if you push yourself hard enough you will be successful in life. Suskind made Cedric’s story extremely easy to relate to. Although I enjoyed the entire book I would have to say my favorite is chapter 13, “A Place up Ahead”. In this chapter Cedric begins to come out of his shell and finally starts to enjoy college life. I can relate to this chapter because when I transferred my junior year I felt extremely out of place at my new school, but eventually just like Cedric I began to come around. If I had to choose I would say that chapter 14, “Meeting the Man” is my least favorite chapter. In this chapter Cedric comes home from college to an eviction notice. His mother falls very far behind on her rent therefore she and Cedric are being evicted. The eviction sparks a fight between Cedric and his mother; they do not speak for a month. Although Cedric has his up and downs throughout the book, I still think the book is amazing. I definitely give the book two thumbs up!

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  • Posted September 16, 2012

    Aenka Fletcher Mrs. Williams AP Language & Composition Septe

    Aenka Fletcher
    Mrs. Williams
    AP Language & Composition
    September 19, 2012

    In my AP Language and Composition class, we have spent several weeks reading and discussing A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind. Suskind, who is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, wrote this novel based on the real life experiences of Cedric Jennings. The novel begins with Cedric as a high school student struggling to make it out of the world he so desperately hate and into a world that he is unfamiliar. Throughout the novel, the reader will be able to watch Cedric grow from a proud, aloof high school student and into a young man who is accepting of whom he is and who is willing to accept new ideas, new people, and new experiences.
    A Hope in the Unseen is a wonderful read. I believe it is one of the best inspirational novels for young adults. The novel gives the reader a sense of “Yes I Can” and since the novel is a biographical novel, it will give readers, who are alike Cedric, a hopeful sense of “you are not alone”. My favorite part of the novel is the Epilogue because it goes a few years after Cedric’s first year of college and the reader have a chance to see a glimpse of not only Cedric’s life, but his mother’s, his father’s, and other people who played a part in Cedric’s story. The Epilogue shows the reader how Cedric let the past be the past and not affect the present and his future. My less favorite part of the novel will have to be the first chapter of the novel, “Something to Push Against”. This chapter portrays Cedric insecurities about his identity, his anger towards others, and at times, how he can be too proud. As far as the story goes, the novel is exceptional as well as Suskind’s writing style. I love how Suskind used his career as a reporter to turn a real life situation of a young man’s journey into a well-written piece of work for other to see a glimpse of what it is like to be Cedric Jennings; and not only did the journalist write from Cedric point of view, but he used characters that have different backgrounds and different struggles than Cedric to give the reader a chance to see their thoughts and their struggles. Also, what is so wonderful about how the author wrote this novel is that he used a good amount of logos such as, the minority percentages in Ivy League Universities and the drop out and success rates at Ballou High School, also he used a lot of pathos. This is what made the novel seem all the more real. I can honestly say this novel is a five star book.

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    Israel Castellon, AP Language & Composition September, 15 20

    Israel Castellon, AP Language & Composition September, 15 2012. The novel A Hope in the Unseen written by Ron Suskind. The novel is a deep and heartwarming story of Cedric Jennings. A teenager who grew up on the southeast side of Washington D.C, and attended the worst High School in the district. It recalls his last two years in High School, and his first year at Brown University. In between all of that the Author does a great job in highlighting the stress and anxiety of being Ivy College Bound. It is a 5-star read that I enjoyed very much. Along with my classmates. The novel was written in a way to captivate the reader, and keep them wanting more.
    Of everything that I have read over the years, nothing has touched me on a personal level like A Hope in the Unseen. I definitely related to the main character, in ways I never thought I would. I myself am a Junior in High School, and I am going through some of the things Cedric went through in his life. Especially the anxiety of graduating High School and going off to College. I personally loved the novel I took something from it and I am applying it to my everyday life, I am sure many others will. My favorite chapter was “Meeting the Man.” The reason why because Cedric finally found a niche in society, and learned to accept things as they come. I too hope for that someday. My least favorite chapter is the first chapter “Something to Push Against,” the chapter exposed Cedric in an adolescent state of mind. It lacked personal growth overall. Ron Suskind does a great job in showing a consistent flow of tone, and personal growth within all of the characters. Not many Authors can do that. This is a great novel I strongly encourage anyone who is looking for a good read to pick up this novel and start reading it. It will change your life, and open your heart. What more can you ask for?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Let down by the writing style

    While I certainly appreciate the story itself (which is why I bought the book), I was let down by how the book was written. If found it hard to get engaged with "third person present", often times using shallow descriptions of characters and/or scenes. Though I am happy to have learned of how Cedric "made it", and I was able to reminisce how I went through the same years, I must admit I struggled getting through this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    Highly recommended

    I received the book at a reasonable amount of days and enjoyed it thoroughly.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    A Book You Can Relate To

    I have read a wonderful book that that connects you to the story. The book is called A Hope in the Unseen; it is written by Ron Suskind. Ron Suskind has written America's most important works of nonfiction, like this one. I read this book because it was for school, but this book is different. This book looked interesting and something I can relate to in my life. This is also another reason I wanted to read this book, it connects with me. I recommend anybody to read this book; this book shows true pathos and imagery. You won't be disappointed, I guarantee it. I will rate this book 5 stars. This book will be bringing out your true feelings.
    I loved this book, no doubt about it. My favorite chapter was the last chapter, "Meeting the Man." It is when Cedric is done with Brown University and he is moving on. I like this chapter because I can relate this chapter to myself. Someday I will be like Cedric, probably not being at Brown, but somewhere else. Then when I am done, my life will move on. That is how life works, everything has to move on so new things can happen. That is why Suskind wrote this book, he is connecting the story to us so that we can compare our lives to theirs. I will rate Suskind's writing 5 stars; he knows how to connect to the reader. I will also give 5 stars to the characters, because these characters are like us, we are all equal. So I do recommend this book to you, trust me, it will open your heart.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011


    A Hope in the Unseen is a really, really outstanding book. The book was about a young man, Cedric Jennings, and his struggles to get to an Ivy League school. The book was written by Ron Suskind. Suskind is a talented author that uses his ability to draw his readers into really analyzing his book. Our AP class read this book to help improve our rhetorical analysis skills. This book is a great book to do that because it is a deeply intellectual novel. It forces you to think beyond your normal limits of thinking. For future readers, this book is a good read. I give it 4 out of 5.
    Overall, I enjoyed reading A Hope in the Unseen. It was interesting and I did not get bored with it, as I do with most books. My favorite chapter was chapter 8, Fierce Intimacies. It was the best chapter to me because it was about Cedric's first month or so at college. I wanted to see how Cedric would fare as a college student. As for Suskind's writing style, it is used very well. It gives the reader insight into what Suskind was thinking and feeling when he wrote it. My favorite character is Cedric because I see a little of myself in him.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    Excellent Read

    Ron Suskind's "A Hope in the Unseen". This book is about a young man (Cedric Jennings) who overcomes his obstacles to be successful in life. He was poor throughout his adolescent years, and did not live a life that most take for granted. He did not let that hinder him from achieving his goals. He worked hard and made it through high school at the top of his class. The author (Ron Suskind) write this novel as though it were fiction when in fact, it is non-fictio. Suskind follows Jennings for several years, and jus takes notes on his life. He then takes these notes, and turns them into a story through immaculate diction, dialogue, dialect, tone, imagery, and other rhetorical strategies. This book is an 8 out of 10.
    This book is excellent. It was a challenging, yet interesting read from cover to cover. The chapters most favored, are chapers 2 and 8 because they introduce readers to Cedrics parents, and give background information on both of them. Those chapters also illustrate some of Cedrics overcome obstacles. As far as writing style, strategies used, characterization, and diction are concerned, this book should be rated at a 9. It keeps readers intrigued, and pulls on all of their emotions at one point or another in the novel. This book was an enjoyable and fun read

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