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

( 72 )

Overview

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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Overview

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: 62,204
  • 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
( 72 )
Rating Distribution

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(31)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 72 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2014

       Adrian Garcia AP Lang & Comp. 10/23/14  ¿A Hope in the U

       Adrian Garcia AP Lang & Comp. 10/23/14

     “A Hope in the Unseen” is an amazing novel written by Ron Suskind.  Ron being a Wall Street Journalist follows a young Man by the name of Cedric Jennings.Cedric is attending Ballou High School, one of the worst schools in his district in the Southside of Washington D.C.  It follows him through the last two years of his high school and his first year attending Brown University, an Ivy League school. You see Cedric breaking away from the dangerous Southside to make it to a college. Having no father, little money, and a single mother to raise him, he manages to make it to an Ivy League college. Where the atmosphere is different from where he came from, you see him developing into a man, a man who sees things and thinks differently about people, ideas, and experiences. You see a new person.
       
    The book should deserve an overall five star rating. Suskind, being a Pulitzer prizewinner and a journalist, he knows how to attract young readers with a book that compares to the struggling life of kids attempting to reach a good college. Suskind also gives advice. The advice to have Hope, reason being you may struggle a lot but you keep on going.  Which makes me kind of inspired by Cedric. I may not    have the same struggles but I understand his struggle with himself. I keep on going no matter what happen in life. My favorite chapter of this book was 14. In this chapter Cedric becomes a new man and starts to see and understand more than he did when he was a high school student. Basically the part I was waiting for in the book where Cedric changes.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    A Hope in the Unseen written by award winning writer and journal

    A Hope in the Unseen written by award winning writer and journalist Ron Suskind. The story follows a young man named Cedric Jennings through-out his last years of high school, and is first year at Brown University. It shows the struggle for Cedric by being out of his comfort zone for most of the story. Cedric is highly intelligent, but making friends is not his strong suit. Our purpose for reading this book was to show us students that anything is possible. No matter what your background is you can still be make it to an Ivy League College.
    A Hope in the Unseen was phenomenal book to read. Showing me that anything is possible if you work for it. My favorite chapter was chapter 13. In chapter 13 Cedric gets his grade back for a math test that he had taken earlier, he was so sure that he had gotten a D. he opened the envelope and to his surprise he got a 98 on the test. It's my favorite part because we have all taken a test that we were sure to fail but we don't do so bad on it. My least favorite part was chapter 6 'The pretender" because it shows how Bishop Long wasn't really preaching for the community, but he was doing it for the money. It's my least favorite part because it shows the dark side to people, and how money can change the thoughts to anybody. For the writing it was all about Cedric, Suskind did not put his thought  or the thoughts of anybody else. 
    Over all i would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5, and would highly recommend it to anybody that wants to enter an Ivy League college to show that it is possible.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Venecia Byrd AP Lang & Comp. October 23, 2014 ¿A Hope in

    Venecia Byrd AP Lang & Comp. October 23, 2014




    “A Hope in the Unseen” in a phenomenal novel written by Ron Suskind. This story talks about a kid, Cedric Jennings, whom is an outstanding and brilliant student, but has a little trouble when it comes to engaging with people and his outside life. Suskind shadows Cedric and tells this astounding selection about Cedric’s educational success. Suskind’s chose of words were what really made me think because there are simple words you can use to make a reader understand, but since he was of that level you could tell he was well educated. This book portrays various themes that any reader can identify and I feel that is the reason any English class, no matter what level should read this novel. My AP class was required to read this story because of the amount of relativity we could equate within our own lives. No matter what skin color, age, or gender you are any student can relate to Cedric Jennings’ character and teething troubles. Countless students have the same difficulties Cedric faced and some may not know how to decipher them. The most distinguishable theme I recognized was inspiration. You have to look profoundly into this book and see that it is all based upon inspiration. Cedric may have gone through ample situations, but he never let that stop him from succeeding in what he was made to do. I think all students should be required to read this book because there may be additional Cedric Jennings’ who are waiting to be exposed, but they may not have the reassurance.




    I very much so relished this book because it kept me betrothed. You never know what the next part may be and once you make a prediction it turns out another outcome is revealed. I had numerous chapters that were my favorite, but the chapter that stood out to me the utmost was chapter 14: Meeting the Man. Chapter 14 is what every student or any reader was waiting on. We all were waiting to see when Cedric was going to stop being a little boy and propagate into a man. In the preceding chapters we saw several changes, but the biggest adjustment was in the end. Suskind choice an immense number of college educated words which is why I was confused at times, but it did not hurt to look them up. Suskind and Cedric moved me after reading this novel and even though I do not read often I would love to read more by him. I give this book beyond 5 stars because no matter what struggles you are up against, faced, or are going to encounter this book can give you the right motivation to better yourself as a person and student.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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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  • Posted October 24, 2014

    Ron Suskind, an award winning writer and journalist, is the aut

    Ron Suskind, an award winning writer and journalist, is the author who created the phenomenal book “A Hope in the Unseen”. “A Hope in the Unseen” is a very inspirational book that is based off the life Cedric, a troubled African teen. Suskind followed Cedric around for two years, and through this experience he was able to create a novel that many teenagers can relate to today. The story is based off of Cedric’s last two years attending Ballou, his high school, and his first year in college, at Brown University. During his high school years Cedric was a troubled teen, coming from a poor household and being raised by a single parent. On top of all that Cedric attends a very low rate high school, where being smart will get you ridiculed and bullied. Yet, despite that Cedric took the most advanced classes he could and strived to be at the top of his class. During his junior year in high school an opportunity arose allowing him to apply for the MIT minority summer program; in which he was accepted into. The only problem was once he was there Cedric felt very out of place. Even though the summer program was meant for minorities, there were not that many other black kids other than him, and Cedric was not very social to begin with. He also felt out of place academically as well. Whilst Cedric struggled to maintain a passing grade in his classes, other students did not seem to have as many problems as Cedric, meaning: that Cedric had to work twice as hard as the other student in order for him to catch up. Even there at the program people had told him that applying to Ivy League schools would be a waste of time, and that he should stick to community colleges. Despite that Cedric wrote a very strong personal statement that had gotten him accepted into Brown University [through affirmative action]. The main purpose of this novel is to give teenagers hope and inspiration; that anyone can make it into college, one just has to put in the time and effort.
    I can consider “A Hope in the Unseen” one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. What I would consider to be my favorite chapter was Chapter 14; here one can see all of Cedric's accomplishments come together. Cedric's hard work and dedication is seen when he passes all of his classes, and even came up with a phenomenal grade on his calculus final. Not just that but the fact that Cedric is attending brown; when there were people telling him that he was wasting his time, but clearly he was not since he was able to pass his classes, and show off the abilities he did not even know he had. One of my least favorite chapters would most likely have to be chapter 3, when it begins to talk about Cedric's father. His father was never around for him, yet he will still not support the fact that Cedric is excelling academically. Cedric's father would much rather he take over him and become a drug dealer, when clearly that is not the right path for Cedric; and Cedric has already carved his own path. Another thing that I enjoyed about the book was the way the author was able to portray the different social classes and standings through a Marxist criticism. One example this literary criticism was seen in was in the chapter where Cedric has problems with his roommate Rob. Rob was very messy, and would never pick up his things around the room, Cedric disliked this greatly. Yet Rob's behavior was not his fault, he was raised in a very wealthy family that was had a maid to pick up after him. While Cedric was brought up differently, he was always taught to pick up after himself. Rob was never taught this concept because it never seemed necessary, since his family had the money to pay for someone else to clean up after him.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind Ron Suskind¿s novel, A Hope

    A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind
    Ron Suskind’s novel, A Hope in the Unseen, is a remarkable piece of literature I read in AP Lang & Comp. This work tells the struggles of a young African American, Cedric, who does not come from much. The only thing set for him is his education. Due to his ethnicity and background, he struggles to become successful in doing so because of his skin color. Many people help him throughout the novel which gives him motivation not to give up. This novel gives students a reason to want to become successful because not everyone gets the opportunity to go to college. This shows how Cedric worked very hard for what he wanted and it paid off at the end. This novel inspires people who can relate to this novel who come from a neighborhood that lives in poverty. This novel is beneficial as it also inspires many students who want to go to college because it shows that Cedric became successful and bettered himself even though he came from a bad neighborhood.
    I really like this novel. My favorite chapter was Chapter 14, “Meeting the Man”, because it showed how Cedric matured. In the beginning he was not considered being a man because he did not meet his mother’s expectations as a man. Nor did he have a good relationship with his father because his father was not mature. At the end Cedric was considered a ‘man’ by his mother after he left college and was able to support her and himself. He also went to visit his father which showed he was willing to put the past behind and grow a relationship as father and son. Suskind did a very good job with the ending of this novel and it ended how I wanted it to. Suskind’s piece of literature was remarkable and many people can relate to it. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2014

    Ramon Padilla AP L&C A hope in the unseen is a narrative

    Ramon Padilla AP L&C A hope in the unseen is a narrative written by Ron Suskind. Suskind is a famous journalist and author of many nonfiction works. This one in particular is about a young African American , who against all odds, succeeds in obtaining what most cannot , an education. His academic achievements are the only way out of his poverty-stricken community. The purpose behind reading this book in my school is to allude it to Suskind's use of rhetorical analysis strategies. Suskind's writing style uses rhetorical skills such as ethos, pathos and logos. Also , his use of plot and conflict help the reader relate to the story and takes readers to the core of most human issues. Race , social classes, and personal merit are all themes touched upon by Suskind. Literary criticism such as Marxism and Cultural criticisms are developed throughout the plot as more and more incidents testing the main character, Cedric Jennings, are unfolded.
    Overall I believe this book is a an excellent choice for all young adults. Development of identity and self-made choices are some things we lack during this stage of maturity. Suskind also shows the difference in social classes and alludes this to Marxism, or deconstruction. Zayd was my favorite character throughout the chapters he and Cedric bonded. My favorite chapter was towards the end of chapter 6, when Cedric receives his acceptance letter from Brown University. While each character contributed to Suskind's Scheme of things, Cedric's Academic achievements and determination give the college-experience a whole new horizon.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Melanie Cuellar AP Language and Composition October 23, 2014

    Melanie Cuellar
    AP Language and Composition
    October 23, 2014


    The title of the book I had to read is named “A Hope in the Unseen” by Ron Suskind who has won the Pulitzer Prize award. In my AP class, this outstanding book is recommended to read for many reasons. It starts off with a young adult named Cedric Jennings who lives in a neighborhood no one should live in. With violence and bad influences surrounding Cedric, his only way out is through educational success. As students and through Ron Suskinds work, it shows us a valuable life lesson and that is to see faith in things we doubt we cannot make just because people are different than others. This book is inspirational, not to only me, but to other young adult readers. “A Hope in the Unseen” can open our eyes to realize that there is worse than what we see or what we can hear in everyday life or in this case Cedric’s life. I appreciate the dedication and hard work that Ron Suskind has put in this great book that will for sure inspire many young adult readers.
    “A Hope in the Unseen” has left me astounded and inspired. It has taught me the courage to have hope in things that seems distant from my goals. It has also taught me how to go through the hardships in the academic process I will encounter. Not only that, but also I learned that no one should let you down just because how you look, where you came from or the ethnicity you are. My overall favorite part in the book is Chapter 12 “Let the Colors Run”. Suskind has many ways to get a reader lost in this chapter and make you realize what life can be done for you if you do it right. It also shows you that whatever color you are, it should not matter what others say and make you feel less of yourself. Ron Suskind has shown the many characteristics of Cedric through this novel and hopefully it can also make others show what they are made of and for these reasons, I give the novel a rate of 5 stars.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind's novel "A Hope i

    Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind's novel "A Hope in the Unseen" is easily one of my favorite pieces of literature. I believe that the story not only evaluates the hardships and struggles Cedric faces in his life, but also serves as entertainment to the audience and informs the reader of the benefits of working hard in order to succeed. The novel illustrates that although things may seem as though they are impossible, it does not necessarily mean it cannot be done. I think the novel can teach a lot of students the true meaning of working hard, even under difficult circumstances. Cedric is raised by his mother, who always struggled with paying bills. As an honor student, Cedric faced ridicule for his intelligence and achievement. Through all of the struggles and hardships Cedric faces, he still manages to have hope. Having hope and faith after going through conflicts in his life help him remain grounded and well-rounded.  This can serve as an example to a lot of teenagers who may be going through something similar in their lives.
    Personally, I really enjoyed having the privilege of reading this novel. I feel as though it taught me a valuable lesson about believing in myself, even when things get difficult. My favorite chapter in the novel is chapter 13 titled “A Place up Ahead”. Cedric learns valuable life lessons about believing in himself, even when no one else does. The hardships and conflicts Cedric faces and conquers exemplify the maturity and development Cedric has gone through towards the end of the novel. My least favorite chapter is chapter 14 titled “Meeting the Man”. I feel as though Cedric reacted inappropriately in a time when his mother needed him most. The dialect the author uses is suitable for the intended audience and the characters included in the novel were appropriately introduced and depicted. Overall, “A Hope in the Unseen” is a remarkable piece of literature that is most certainly worth the read, which is why I rated the novel a complete 5 stars. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2014

    Makiyah Thurman Ap language and composition  A Hope in the Unsee

    Makiyah Thurman Ap language and composition
     A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind is a very inspirational novel. I read it for my AP Language and Composition class and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Suskind followed the main character of the novel, Cedric, around for about two years and created this story about his life. Cedric is not a very fortunate kid but still was able to live his dream of going to college and making a better life for himself. From this novel the reader gets an insight on the struggle of a poor black child in Washington D.C .His struggles and short comings of being a smart, black, poor male in the late 1900’s were emphasized in the novel. Cedric is the perfect role-model for high school students. People everywhere should read this novel because of the message it sends. It teaches people that even when the odds are against you, you should never give up. 
      I liked the novel very much because Cedric was able to overcome so many obstacles in his life. My favorite part was when Cedric, in a way, grew up and became a man in chapter 14. The reader is able to see him grow into the person he became at the end of the novel, and this made me like the novel even more. My least favorite part of the novel was when Cedric did not spend time with his mother when he came home from college for Thanksgiving in chapter 10. I disliked this part of the story because Cedric's mother does all she can for him and he did not even go visit her after he had been gone for months at college. A bit of pathos was used by Suskind because Cedric's life story struck intense emotion into the audience. Suskind’s style of writing made the novel easy to comprehend. I recommend that everyone read this amazing novel. I rate it a five out of five.


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  • Posted October 23, 2014

        "A Hope in the Unseen",written by award winning au

        "A Hope in the Unseen",written by award winning author, Ron Suskind, focuses on the life of Cedric Jennings. Cedric's background was not all the great to begin with. He came from a single parent home and received most of his foundation from his mother and his church. Suskind begins to shadow Cedric and gives the reader details throughCedric's eyes. This book would be very beneficial and school appropriate due to the fact that Cedric's story is so inspirational. His determination was vital to his thriving successes. His unwillingness to accept failure failure gives the reader the happy ending that we all look forward to when reading books. Suskind shows, through Cedric's story, that the impossible is possible.
        Compared to other stories read throughout my academic career, I rather enjoyed this book. The most enjoyable chapter 13, "A Place Up Ahead". In this chapter, Cedric is accepting his place in the world,focusing on all aspects of his life and is actually content in his position. The least enjoyable chapter was chapter 4, "Skin Deep". This chapter dealt a lot with Cedric and his identity crisis. Throughout the book, Cedric is dealing with this crisis and Suskind captures this beautifully. The way that Suskind makes the reader feel as though Cedric and them are one and that they are traveling down the same journey in life makes this read more enjoyable. His use of  rhetorics like, literary criticisms,elevated diction,tone,ethos,pathos,and logos helps the reader paint a more accurate picture of Cedric and make the reader feel more invested. The characters are also relatable. Everyone will be able to connect the characters to someone they know in real life. In conclusion, the book was far more enjoyable than the others because of it being so relatable, in addition to being inspirational.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Ron Suskinds "A Hope In The Unseen" was an amazing wo

    Ron Suskinds "A Hope In The Unseen" was an amazing work of non-fiction. I read this book in my AP Lang and Comp class. This is the story of a young man attending an Ivy League University agaainst all odds, but it is also the story of the daily challenges faced by poor black famlies. In additon to that the purpose of reading this book would be to inspire young kids to never give up,it also teaches them that racsim is a big problem and no matter where they come from they can make a differnence. Cedric faced many obstacles including, race, intelligance, adjustment, poverty, and lack of money. Cedric always looked at the bright side of things and never gave up hope. I rate this book a 5 star because when analyzing the book you uncover alot more detail and the vocabulary is really advanced. I love this book and i highly recomend this book for high school students. My favorite chapter would be Let The Colors Run because it compares all students to paintings. The artist does not segregate the colors, they just let the colors run. I cannot say i have a least favorite because they book kept me engaged and it is not boing. As far as the characters and the style of writing i give a 5 as well because it has alot of rhetorical analyzes. Go read the book is will be worth your while.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Myesha Dills Mrs. Stewart-Williams AP Lang & Comp 24 October

    Myesha Dills
    Mrs. Stewart-Williams
    AP Lang & Comp
    24 October 2014




    The novel, “A Hope in the Unseen”, is an immaculate piece of non-fiction, biographical literature in which a young man, Cedric Jennings, is observed by the author, Pulitzer Prize award winning, Ron Suskind. Recently, my AP Language and Composition class was assigned this novel to read. As extraordinary as the literature is, it serves a higher purpose than the literary value it holds. There is rationale behind why students today read this novel: they learn valuable life lessons. The novel itself leads its audience on an inspiration overhaul, but it is the people involved that truly make it what it is known to be today. The characters--whom are real life people--Cedric Jennings and his mother Barbara Jennings serve as deities for a world that not many people know of. As Suskind asserts in his novel, Cedric is a teenage, poverty stricken, honors student, living in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Washington D.C. with his mother. His success in school creates tremendous opportunities for him and open more doors than he could have ever imagined. This success leads him on a personal, life changing journey, creating an inspirational and scholarly work of literature that is relatable to many of the readers of the novel.
    The author, Ron Suskind’s, novel leaves a forever lasting mark on whoever the reader may be. Personally, I believe the book is very inspirational and relatable. The main character, Cedric Jennings, is truly inspiring, as he leads us on his journey of being self-finding, accepting and motivating. My favorite chapter was definitely chapter 13, as it held all of the leading aspects. Cedric is witnessed becoming a more, well-rounded person becoming more mature and hard-working than he is at the beginning of the novel: he is deemed more able to accomplish the success that he yearns for. His new beginning brought about a feeling of content within me. His continuity of himself in all features provides a self-evaluating provision of the character as well as oneself. My least favorite part was how Cedric treated his mother after everything she did for him. He treated her ‘coldly’ when she visits him at Brown; he acts ashamed of her, even though she guides him on his path to success. Suskind’s novel, overall, gives a new and different look into the lives of those like Cedric, making it more relatable to many of its readers. Every character encountered is presented with a problem that each of them overcome. Ron Suskind gives an excellent evaluation of these characters lives. Overall, “A Hope in the Unseen” is definitely worth the read, which is why I give it a rating of five stars.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    The novel, ¿A Hope in the Unseen¿, is an immaculate piece of non

    The novel, “A Hope in the Unseen”, is an immaculate piece of non-fiction, autobiographical literature in which a young man, Cedric Jennings, is observed by the author, Pulitzer Prize award winning author, Ron Suskind.  Recently, my AP language and composition class was assigned this novel to read. As extraordinary the literature is, it serves a higher purpose than the literary value it holds. There is rationale behind why students today read this novel: they learn valuable life lessons. The novel itself leads its audience on an inspiration overhaul, but it is the people involved that truly make it what it is known to be today. The characters--whom are real life people--Cedric Jennings and his mother Barbara Jennings serve as deities for a world that not many people know of. As Suskind asserts in his novel, Cedric is a teenage, poverty stricken, honors student, living in one of the most dangerous neighborhood in Washington D.C. with his mother. His success in school creates tremendous opportunities for him and open more doors than he could have ever imagined. This success leads him on a personal, life changing journey, creating an inspirational and scholarly work of literature that is able to be relatable to many of the readers of the novel.
    The author, Ron Suskind’s novel leaves a forever lasting mark on whoever the reader may be. Personally, I believe the book was very inspirational and relatable. The main character, Cedric Jennings, is truly inspiring, as he too leads us on his journey of being self-finding, accepting and motivating. My favorite chapter was definitely chapter 13, as it held all of the leading aspects. Cedric is witnessed becoming a more, well-rounded person becoming more mature and hard-working than he was when the novel began: he is deemed more able to accomplish the success that he yearns for. His new beginning brought about a feeling of content within me. His continuity of himself in all features provides a self-evaluating provision of the character as well as oneself. Suskind’s novel, overall, gives a new and different look into the lives of those like, Cedric, making it more relatable to many of its readers. Every character encountered was presented with a problem that each of them overcame. Ron Suskind gives an excellent evaluation of these characters lives. Overall, “A Hope in the Unseen” is definitely worth the read which is why I give it a rating of five stars.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Ron Suskind¿s novel, A Hope in the Unseen describes the hardship

    Ron Suskind’s novel, A Hope in the Unseen describes the hardships and development of the main protagonist, Cedrick Jennings. Suskind applies his knowledge from the University of Virginia, and his accredited accomplishments at the Columbia School of Journalism to reach the reader into the world of an impoverished African American student with a mindset for stratified learning. Through Suskind’s interpretation, the reader begins to understand viewpoints and the purpose for Suskind’s literary criticism. Suskind critically expresses the tone of the novel through the pathos exclaimed through Cedric’s emotions. This novel has absolutely opened my eyes to the importance of college and an education worth giving your entire life behind. This novel’s powerful diction has made me realize the world will always have a darkness within it, however, we must push our limits just like Cedric in order to achieve the light in hope that the days were there wasn’t enough money to pay for bills are gone. Therefore, I rate this book a solid 4/5. 




    Suskind’s experience as an accredited award winning Journalists proves to give the reader a promising novel. I will say that Suskind has written yet another work of literary gold as his accurate interpretation of Cedric Jennings has convinced my colleges and I to work much harder so that we could leave our past life and become successful. However, there were some chapters in the novel I wouldn’t agree with. In chapter 4, Suskind interprets Cedric as some type of egotistical person that doesn’t fall in line with the storyline. I was assuming he was mature and proper, however, he begins to blurt out to teacher and claiming he is “Racist”.  I simply do not believe this chapter was by any chance appropriate. There were also some chapters that I believe were absolutely perfect to express ceric as a scholarly individual. Towards the end of Chapter 14, Cedric finally receives his report card and receives an astonishing report! He has finally achieved his long awaited accomplishments and makes me very proud of the man he has developed over time. The characters were all very promising as well as entertaining with backgrounds of all different social classes. Suskind’s style of writing is like a journey of the heart, he takes readers to the core of the most fundamental human issues – love, faith, friendship, brotherhood, what parents can offer their children, and how, in moments of darkness, we literally need stories to survive.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    A Hope in the Unseen is a novel written by Pulitzer Prize award


    A Hope in the Unseen is a novel written by Pulitzer Prize award winning journalist Ron Suskind. My AP Language and Composition class recently read this book while covering rhetorical analysis. This novel tells Cedric Jennings story out of a terrible school and in
    to the Ivy League. Being an African-American young man, the odds are obviously against him. Suskind does great job of telling Cedric's inspirational story. Overall, I didn't dislike this book, but I didn't love it either. Suskind's characterization is fantastic. Reader will definitely be able to get a complete understanding of each character. The changes in point-of-view allow an outsider's opinion on Cedric. I found Cedric to be relatable but not likeable. Suskind's writing style allows him to be completely unbiased. He is but a mere spectator reporting the events in Cedric's life. My favorite part of the book was when Cedric finally decided to loosen up, and stop judging people. My least favorite part was when Cedric's mother continued to be so irresponsible. Overall, I would give it a three. It's not something that I'm eager to read again.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Aliyah Pennington Mrs. Stewart AP Language and Composition Octob

    Aliyah Pennington
    Mrs. Stewart
    AP Language and Composition
    October 23, 2014


    In my AP Language class, we read A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind. This novel was a fantastic read. The purpose of this book is to give students hope and to let students know to not be ashamed of their intelligence. A Hope in the Unseen is a about a young boy, named Cedric, who grew up in Washington D.C.. Cedric came from a poor environment. In high school, he always struggled trying to keep his grades up. This novel relates to how real life is and what young black men go through. The rate that I gave this book was a 4 out of 5 because it was relatable for those who struggle and feel that they are not smart enough.
    A Hope in the Unseen was a wonderful book, which I love. My favorite chapter would have to be chapter 13, “A Place up Ahead”. This is my favorite chapter because Cedric finds who he really is. He didn’t believe in himself academically. He passed his Calculus test with an A. He was shocked that he received such a good grade. He proved to himself that he was academically profound. Suskind writing style is wonderful. I would rate him a 5 out of 5 on a scale. His writing style is interesting. He uses different rhetorical strategies throughout the novel.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    A Hope in the Unseen is an excellent book that I had to read in

    A Hope in the Unseen is an excellent book that I had to read in my AP language and composition class. It was written by the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind. Suskind is known for writing some of America's greatest novels. His novels explore the main human issues of modern times. With his experience in writing about human experience, Suskind did an amazing job of writing about the struggles of a young black man in his novel A Hope in the Unseen. In A Hope in the Unseen the main character, Cedric Jennings, faces a variety of issues throughout the story. Cedric is an ambitious and extremely determined student who wants nothing more than to get out of the his neighborhood. He knows how intelligent he is and wants to be something. His main problem comes with getting into a college that will provide him with all the opportunities he needs. Susking showcases how hard it is for Cedric to not only get into college but also keep up with the other students who come from better school. Suskind makes Cedric's situation easy to relate to. Many minority student have a problem getting into good colleges and keeping up with those who are better taught. Cedric is symbolism for students all across the world.
    I really enjoyed A Hope in the Unseen because it makes me believe I can do what Cedric did, which is beat the odds. I like how it relates to not only African American minorities but all minorities. My favorite parts of the novel would be when Cedric finally starts having some clarity about who he is and what he must do to succeed. It was also interesting to read about what Cedric's problems were at home because it gives the reader an idea of different class problems. Suskind was clever to use Marxist and cultural criticism. He also did a good job in creating a complex group of characters. Each character may exhibit different types of cultures or different levels of Marxism. Suskind made sure that a variety of people could relate to the book. He also made it a book that you had to pay close attention to in order to catch certain things. It is because of all these things that I rate this book four stars.

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  • Posted October 23, 2014

    Christopher Travis. A Hope in the Unseen is a book written by Ro

    Christopher Travis. A Hope in the Unseen is a book written by Ron Suskind, which follows the educational experience of Cedric Jennings. My AP Language and Composition class is required to read this book, because our English Department felt it would be an engaging book that the students could relate to. In many ways students can easily relate to Cedric's academic challenges. Also he struggles with culture shock, due to the fact that he attends a majority white school, while he himself is black. Cedric's life is that of a typical urban black student, and goes to show that with enough determination people can be successful. His story is inspirational considering that he does not come from much.
    I love this book, because I feel I can relate to Cedric's story very much. He is smart, but because of where he comes from he sometimes doubts it. On top of that his test scores are not that great, which adds to his skepticism. Although I may not experience his difficulties in test taking, I do understand his struggles when it comes to his self image. My favorite chapter in the book is chapter thirteen, which is where Cedric finally begins to have a streak of good luck. The reader can see Cedric's confidence rising, and it provides a positive tone. The cultural aspects of the book, provide a sense of familiarity to me. I understand many of the references, which makes the book easier to read. The book may have some more complex words, which require you to have a dictionary nearby, but the read is well worth it.

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