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

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

by Ron Suskind


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The inspiring, true coming-of-age story of a ferociously determined young man who, armed only with his intellect and his willpower, fights his way out of despair.

In 1993, Cedric Jennings was 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 was well into double digits and just 80 students out of more than 1,350 boasted an average of B or better. At Ballou, Cedric had almost no friends. He ate lunch in a classroom most days, plowing through the extra work he asked for, knowing that he was really competing with kids from other, harder schools. Cedric Jennings’s driving ambition—which was fully supported by his forceful mother—was to attend a top college.

In September 1995, after years of near superhuman dedication, he realized that ambition when he began as a freshman at Brown University. But he didn't leave his struggles behind. He found himself unprepared for college: he struggled to master classwork and fit in with the white upper-class students. Having traveled too far to turn back, Cedric was left to rely on his intelligence and his determination to maintain hope in the unseen—a future of acceptance and reward.

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 tells the story of his subsequent successes in college and the world of work. Eye-opening, sometimes humorous, and often deeply moving, A Hope in the Unseen weaves a crucial new thread into the rich and ongoing narrative of the American experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767901260
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 160,124
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.88(d)
Lexile: 1080L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Ron Suskind is the author of The Globe and Mail and New York Times bestsellers The One Percent Doctrine, The Price of Loyalty, and A Hope in the Unseen. From 1993 to 2000 he was the senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. He currently writes for various national magazines, including The New York Times Magazine and Esquire, and is the senior fellow at Harvard’s Center of Ethics. He lives in Harvard Square, MA. 

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.

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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A Hope In The Unseen (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 172 reviews.
T I O K A More than 1 year ago
A hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind. Is a story about a smart African American boy figuring his way out of the ghetto. Experiencing an entirely new world as the reader follows him on this journey. The purpose of reading this book was for my high school English class. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5. It was very relatable and addressed a lot of topics I think about as I approach graduation. I did like this book. I was a very real book showing the reader through Cerdic's life and showing all of his flaws along the way. My favorite chapter was when Cedric became friends with Zayd. This gave Cedric a whole new perspective on how the color of your skin effects a friendship. The worst chapter in the story was when Cedric felt very superior to everyone else at Ballou and spoiled himself. Suskind uses a lot of pathos in the story and makes you want Cedric to succeed in life despite his attitude and other false. My least favorite character throughout the book was Barabra Jennings because she is a very irresponsible person and takes too much credit for Cedric's success when she wasn't even around much to help.
HEYITSLeslieP-4th More than 1 year ago
The novel, A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind explains the inspiring story of a student named, Cedric Jennings who was a student from Ballou High School and how he was able to achieve great things, even being in a harsh environment with little motivation. Also, Suskind is able to follow Cedric from his junior year at Ballou all the way to Brown University, in which Cedric is face with competition, some prejudice, and hardship of maintaining true to himself. Throughout the novel, Cedric is face with multiple difficulties and it makes him question who he is. The purpose of the novel was to inform students who go through similar difficulties and to explain how society’s standings on education affects students. Suskind’s novel, A Hope in the Unseen is very interesting novel and I would absolutely recommend it. I like the novel because it makes you think about the educational statistics of Ivy League Colleges and how students actually go through this. My favorite chapter is Chapter four because you are able to see how Cedric is affected and you get to know his personality more. Also, in Chapter four Suskind is able to incorporate many rhetorical strategies such as, tone, pathos, and simile. Suskind uses tone in this chapter because the tone is very different, since it changes it a lot. He incorporates pathos by writing how Cedric is feeling and what aspects are causing it, which makes the reader feel the emotion. In my opinion, I would rate the novel a 4.5 out 5 because it’s so fascinating and Suskind is able to truly capture how students like Cedric go through this.
S_Ayala More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind follows the life of a young teenager, named Cedric Jennings, living in the United States’ capital, Washington D.C. Cedric lives in bad neighborhood where violence lurks around every corner. The schools are filled with drug dealers and people who do not care much about their grades. Cedric is clearly depicted as the oddball out and he strives to do well in school. He performs well in school with the aid of his teachers and manages to attend a summer program at MIT. MIT proves to be a challenge for Cedric because for the first time he struggles academically in school. Cedric, although, does not let this stop him from further succeeding in college. He attends the Ivy League college of Brown University where he learns that diversity is not a bad thing. The purpose for reading this book is for students to understand that there is no excuse to succeed academically. Many challenges may face someone but that student must learn to overcome those challenges. Cedric was able to do just that signifying it is possible. All one needs is perseverance. After reading the novel, the book overall was an excellent piece of work. The part that makes it a good book is the way how it follows Cedric’s life throughout a period of years showing how he changes over time. This adds to the realism the book is based off. My favorite character is Cedric because he is portrayed as a young minority who can overcome several obstacles in his life. In a way, I can relate to him and I am sure many others can too. The book receives a five out of five rating, in my opinion, especially through the rhetorical strategies used by Suskind. The theme of hope gives a general idea of what Cedric wishes to accomplish and strive for. Rhetoric in the novel helps show how several events affect Cedric and try to persuade him to do something to his advantage. Lastly, the varying back and forth perspective between Cedric and his mother shows how Cedric struggles through life and how these struggles affect his family too. -O. Magallanes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ron Suskind’s novel A Hope in the Unseen is a biographical novel about the life of Cedric Jennings through his last years in high school and first year in college. It details his life in Ballou High School, an inner-city school in Washington, D.C., and onto Brown University, which Cedric attends after high school. The book portrays the problems of inner-city education systems and how the students from these systems are affected throughout their lives. The novel also portrays minor problems such as poverty and adjustment. The purpose of reading this novel at school is to show students that they should not let any obstacle affect their ability to go far in their education. I enjoy reading A Hope in the Unseen because it is very informative and interesting. The novel gives me an insight of an African American’s life who comes from poverty and all black community trying to succeed in a white man’s world during the 1990s. My favorite chapter is “To Him Who Endureth” because it includes Cedric’s biggest achievements. He finally graduates high school and he is notified that he is going to Brown University. Cedric must be very emotionally because he is one step closer towards his goal. Suskind applies various rhetorical strategies in his novel A Hope in the Unseen. He greatly uses the rhetorical strategy of point of view. Suskind includes many of the opinions of different characters throughout the course of the novel but he makes sure that these opinions are balanced with relevant counter-arguments. Overall, Suskind is a great writer with a great purpose for the reader. I will give this novel a five-star writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Hope in the Unseen by Richard Wright is a phenomenal novel which depicts a young Cedric Jennings in his last years of high school. Cedric Jennings is a young African American male who struggles to become a victorious success later on in his life. Cedric starts out as a intelligent lost individual looking for a way to educational success. Cedric breaks the norm of his crime infested neighborhood and tries to move on from the kids who aren't doing anything positive with themselves. Cedric comes from a struggling upbringing of an unstable home and relationship with his father . Cedric is depicted as a character who is deemed to succeed despite his mother's inability to provide for him and his father's inability to stay out of jail and prison. Cedric is not given the necessary guide of a educational mentor because of the circumstances that make him want to move on from his troubles . Richard Wright wrote this novel in order to provide a connection to the reader of being under pressure and finding their way of of the crime and troubles in order to succeed. A Hope in the Unseen by Richard Wright focuses on the image of a struggling black teen trying to come from a crime infested Ballou to a HBCU Brown University with the notion that he cannot succeed without money or support. I Loved the book because it focuses on the image of no matter what your ethnicity or story is you could succeed in someway possible. Richard Wright touched on connections with the reader under the circumstances that the reader can relate to . The chapter that i liked the most was chapter 6 "The Pretender" because it focused on how money could manipulate a person in order for a person to get what they want in life. Cedric pretended to be someone he was not because he knew he needed the money . Cedric Jennings' father pretended to really care for his son despite the fact that they didn't have a true relationship with each other . Wright focused on the aspect of a unstable relationship with people . My least favorite chapter was " Bill Payers up Ahead" because it showed how Cedric's mother was financially unstable and coulnd't provide for him . Wright used a mixture of ethos , pathos and logos throughout the novel as he focused on Cedric Jennings' life as a struggling black male in the hopes of a higher education. The characters in the novel are depicted as additional characters to Cedric's life and his upbringing and success.
Nkwo_C More than 1 year ago
A Hope in the Unseen is a novel by Pulitzer award winning author and critically acclaimed journalist Ron Suskind. I read this book as a requirement for my AP Language and Composition class, because of how much of it equates to our lives; I am glad I did. The story centers itself around the life of a young African American boy Cedric Jennings; Through this story, Ron Suskind chronicles Cedrics last years at high school and his first year in Brown University. A Hope in the unseen epitomizes Cedrics struggle through the walls of one of the worst high schools in the inner city- Ballou Senior High, were gun violence and gang activity are the word of the day, to his family life with his father in jail, leaving his mother compounded with the struggle to pay bills and keep a roof over their heads and then his strong desire to attend a to university, ridding the possibility of his becoming just another statistic; just another failure. He works with prodigious determination and makes his dreams come true. When Cedric Jennings get accepted into Brown he little knows that it would be one of his most trying experiences; testing the morals and principles he has lived by all his life. Would he be able to succeed without giving in to the temptations and trials he faces at Brown? I really enjoyed this story because it is very well written, comprises very well developed characters that grow as the story unfolds. Suskind also uses various rhetorical strategies like pathos, by conveying the emotions of the characters in the story making readers emotionally attached, and use of diction makes the novel applicable to its readers. I give this book a 5-star rating because it shows students like me that fear of getting into college and struggles through high school are only for the time being and hard work and dedication always prevail Cedric teaches a lesson of perseverance even through deplorable circumstances. I enjoyed every chapter as each blossomed in its own way, most especially chapter 1 “Something to push against” because it shows Cedrics drive and the reason for his thirst for success he calls himself “a man on a mission” a mission to succeed, to be much more than a statistic. A mission he achieved. This an effective text that captivates the audience, engages the reader and tells a good story. I would definitely recommend this novel not just to students struggling with issues affecting them academically but anyone who faces struggles in life that seem impossible to overcome, this story shows everything is possible as long as you work hard at it.
AdrianG More than 1 year ago
   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.  
VeneciaB More than 1 year ago
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.
JLewis1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Kennedy_Kimari More than 1 year ago
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.
streamsong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1994 Ron Suskind started following the high school career of an extremely intelligent, high achieving inner city black student named Cedric Jennings. Jennings came from a home with a fundamentalist Christian single mother who worked at a low paying job and wasn't always successful in putting food on the table. His father was imprisoned several times for dealing drugs. His high school was known for being very poor scholastically, with an abysmally low percentage of the students graduating and even fewer going on to college.Although Jennings was a stand out student in his school, his SAT and other markers of performance were well below average.This is the story of how Jennings made it to an Ivy League University, Brown, and then overcame his academically deficient background to succeed.It's the story of having confidence and pride in what you've achieved, and a faith and hope in that place that you have not yet seen but know is ahead of you.I also learned a lot about affirmative action programs; both how they are meant to be helpful and how they can create a disadvantage for the poorest rung of the people they are trying to help.Author Ron Suskind had originally written this as a two part series of articles of Jennings' senior high school year. For this Suskind won a Pulitzer Prize. At first I was very distracted by the present tense used throughout this book (a byproduct of a journalist's writing, perhaps)--but as I got into the story, this dropped away.
sarahfrierson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cedric Jennings was a student at Ballou, one of Washington D.C.'s roughest inner-city schools, where kids rarely graduated and crime was rampant. A bright young man, he never fit in to such an environment; he stuck with what he knew--his faith, his mother, math, music--and he placed his sights beyond Ballou. He set the impressive goal of getting to the Ivy League.Cedric did accomplish his goal, getting accepted to Brown University, but he soon found that he still faced many of the same issues--loneliness, feeling out-of-place, insecurity, etc. And, he was no longer the brightest student in the classroom.Ron Suskind, winner of a Pulitzer for his articles about Cedric in the Wall Street Journal, followed the young man for almost four years to capture this journey. What results is a very honest account of life at the bottom, the hope for the future and the realities of accomplishing mighty goals. Most importantly, Cedric's story shows that the most important step is to become comfortable in one's own skin.Suskind does not present a glossed-over account of any person (or institution, for that matter). Instead, he offers insight, based on hundreds of interviews, into the motivations and emotions that guide each of the people in the story. Readers from varying racial, economic and social perspectives are offered this insight to gain a better understanding of the barriers our youth often face as they try to reach their goals.
Dayana Owens More than 1 year ago
The novel A Hope in the Unseen written by Ron Suskind, is a good book. If I had to rate the book out of five stars, I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. The main character, Cedric Jennings, is extremely irritating in my opinion. The way Ron Suskind wrote Cedric’s dialogue created this homosexual vibe. I have nothing against homosexuals but the way Cedric acts and talks in the book is too dramatic. I guess that is the way Suskind hints at his sexual preference. In addition, Suskind created this image of women that I do not necessarily agree with. He characterizes Barbara Jennings as irresponsible, helpless, and hopeless. He also makes it seem as though you cannot raise a child without a man being involved. Suskind illustrates this when he writes Barbara’s thoughts about Cedric Gilliam, Cedric Jennings father. Barbara feels as though Cedric makes things easy and has more money and is more capable of caring for a family than she is. I like the book but it is not a novel that I would choose to read for recreation. My favorite chapter of the book was when Cedric was in the process of writing his speech for graduation. I say this because it displays that parents do sometimes tend to take credit for things that they did not play a major role in, such as Barbara acting as though she had so much to do with Cedric being as intelligent as he is. I like the style of writing Ron Suskind uses in the book. The denotation he uses makes it feel as though I was not reading, that I was actually in the book and witnessing everything first person because of how easy and understandable the dialogue is. I do not like Barbara Jennings. I enjoyed Rob and the other college students. Cedric was extremely irritating but his father was one of the worst characters. What I took from the book was the idea that your circumstances do not determine your future. By this I mean that you have control over how you deal with obstacles and how you use bad situations and make them into better ones. The purpose of reading the book in school would be to show each student that you can reach your goals when you put your mind to it. In closing, the novel A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind is a good book to read.
Dayana Owens More than 1 year ago
The novel A Hope in the Unseen written by Ron Suskind, is a good book. If I had to rate the book out of five stars, I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. The main character, Cedric Jennings, is extremely irritating in my opinion. The way Ron Suskind wrote Cedric’s dialogue created this homosexual vibe. I have nothing against homosexuals but the way Cedric acts and talks in the book is too dramatic. I guess that is the way Suskind hints at his sexual preference. In addition, Suskind created this image of women that I do not necessarily agree with. He characterizes Barbara Jennings as irresponsible, helpless, and hopeless. He also makes it seem as though you cannot raise a child without a man being involved. Suskind illustrates this when he writes Barbara’s thoughts about Cedric Gilliam, Cedric Jennings father. Barbara feels as though Cedric makes things easy and has more money and is more capable of caring for a family than she is. I like the book but it is not a novel that I would choose to read for recreation. My favorite chapter of the book was when Cedric was in the process of writing his speech for graduation. I say this because it displays that parents do sometimes tend to take credit for things that they did not play a major role in, such as Barbara acting as though she had so much to do with Cedric being as intelligent as he is. I like the style of writing Ron Suskind uses in the book. The denotation he uses makes it feel as though I was not reading, that I was actually in the book and witnessing everything first person because of how easy and understandable the dialogue is. I do not like Barbara Jennings. I enjoyed Rob and the other college students. Cedric was extremely irritating but his father was one of the worst characters. What I took from the book was the idea that your circumstances do not determine your future. By this I mean that you have control over how you deal with obstacles and how you use bad situations and make them into better ones. The purpose of reading the book in school would be to show each student that you can reach your goals when you put your mind to it. In closing, the novel A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind is a good book to read.
lexis lewis More than 1 year ago
The book I am reading, A Hope in the Unseen, by Ron Suskind, is a phenomenal book. This book teaches a reader that it is not bad to be yourself. Ron Suskind uses different types of rhetorical strategies to connect the reader to the text. I would rate this book an 8/10. I give it an eight because it was certain parts of the book that I was not fond of but other than that the book was lovely. Suskind uses different characters and chapters to tell a story about one boy, Cedric Jennings. My favorite character was Cedric of course. Cedric was my favorite character because he is an actual person who went through this struggle. Throughout the book we see Cedric grow into a man and be a better person. My favorite chapter is “Back Home”, this was a great chapter because anyone can relate to it even if you're in high school, college, have a job, or etc. Coming back to your roots, make a person realize that you want to make the people around you proud, and if that means lying that has to happen. My least favorite chapter is “ Don’t Let Them Hurt Your Children”, this chapter got very detailed in Barbara’s past life. The thought of Suskind asking Barbara about her past for his book made me think that it was hard for her because all of the struggles she had to go through to get to this point in life.
Damian Berry More than 1 year ago
The hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind , is about an African American boy names Cedric Jennings who struggles in life, as he meets the real world. The purpose of reading this book was to take high school seriously, and make it to college to be successful. Cedric proves everyone who doubted him wrong that he can make it, and he proved it to him mother, Barbara that he made it. This story tells the reader that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.         The novel, overall, was a really excellent written book. I think that Ron Suskind did a great job on the book. He explains very well how Cedric struggles during his period trying to be successful. Just from reading this I feel like I can do anything, and that it's possible if you work for it. My favorite part of the book was chapter one. The whole chapter was the best because it just explains what Cedric goes through when he attended Ballou. My least favorite part in the book was in chapter 11, when Cedric and LaTisha were arguing about how people should look.  Suskind uses a lot of descriptive words describe things. Suskind also uses the rhetorical strategy, pathos, in the book. Cedric Jennings is the main character of the book and he has a lot of pride. His mother, Barbara, is a bad mother because she really isn't doing anything to help her son. She's supportive but that’s all she can be because she has no money.   
Emma Gallegos More than 1 year ago
The novel, "A Hope in the Unseen" by Ron Suskind, is a great book to read in school for upperclassmen. Cedric's story is relatable as the novel talks about his journey through the last years of high school to college. The purpose is trying to show how a minority faced all odds to make it into an Ivy League school. I rate the book a four out of five because Cedric is very inspiring. Cedric faced many obstacles to get where he did. Suskind used the writing style of persuasive and narrative. The story is told in Cedric's perspective , but is persuasive as Suskind uses pathos and ethos to show how Cedric felt in certain situations that maybe the reader could then relate to and feel a connection. I did like the story and to me, Cedric's story is motivational and he learns so many thinks as his life goes on. My favorite chapters were "Skin Deep" and "Back Home". In "Skin Deep", Cedric is told that he can not join the program he always dreamed to be a part of. Cedric begins to work harder for what he wants. In "Back Home", Cedric goes back to Ballou and notices that violence has increased. Cedric then realizes that he no longer needs to be in a negative environment or surround himself with negativity anymore. These two situations can be related to anyone. I can relate to Cedric's to actions because I know i have to work hard now so that it will pay off in the future and the only way that would happen is if I surround myself with people who support me. The only thing I did not like was the long chapters. Other than that, everything Suskind wrote was tied together with the characters and their role they had in Cedric's life and I do recommend the novel to those being indecisive about college.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cesar Cruz The novel "A Hope in the Unseen" by Ron Suskind is a pretty good book. We read this book for our Ap Language and composition class. I would rate this a good book because someone it is very relatable. Where Cedric came from to how he was in school can describe so many people. Cedric came from a bad neighborhood. He was very smart but was criticized because of that because most kids at his high school Ballou didn't care about school like he did. He was determined to go to MIT nd other universities and colleges. I liked it because it is inspiring. It is inspiring by the way Cedric pushed through everything to be successful. I liked the first chapter because in introduced everything that set the story. I didn't like chapter 13 because of the was Cedric was judged by the color of his skin them by how much he accomplished in school. Ron Suskind has a good writing style. He set up this book very well and uses imagery to give the reader a better perspective into the story. He also uses the proper diction. The characters are a very important part to this novel. They come together almost perfect and gives the novel variety it needed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind follows the life of D.C. native, Cedric Jennings. Suskind writes about Cedric’s last couple of years In Ballou High School and his first years at Brown University. It shows how Cedric is the smart kid in his high school but receives a reality check when he is able to experience life with more academically advanced students. He experiences truly being out of his comfort zone for the first time and struggles to overcome this. The purpose of reading this novel is for students, especially those in more disadvantaged areas, to see that with hard work and dedication, they can succeed. Although the story is an inspiring and well-written one, the book is a bit boring to me. While I was reading it was a struggle for me to get through some parts that just seemed a bit dragged out. This is because the author does go into a lot of detail in the story. It also made me lose focus with the author moving around Cedric's story within a single chapter; when I started getting more interested it moved on to a different story. My favorite chapter is chapter 12, “Let the Colors Run”, we are able to see the difference in Cedric’s perspective from when he had only known life at Ballou and his neighborhood to him being exposed to different types of people and lifestyles. Cedric is able to see things that are wrong that he used to pass off as normal before. I also liked how we were able to see how Cedric feels through a more personal way with the poem he writes, which also emphasizes his change in perspective. My least favorite chapter is chapter 6, “The Pretender”, because not much happens in this chapter and it also contains one of my least favorite scenes in the book. Bishop Long is shown not really being invested in the actual people of the church, but more with their money. He also lets the “spirit” overtake him so that he can get Cedric to stand, which really bothered because he is not being honest with the people of his church.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yazmin Garcia AP Lang and Comp 10/29/2017 Ron Suskind’s A Hope in the Unseen is by far one of the most eye opening books that I have personally read in my high school life. Reading this in my AP Language and Composition class, I thought “Oh, another boring book…” but it was far different from that. Not only did it open my eyes to the college world out there and how different it will be when I go out there, but it also shows a perspective from a minority point of view. I especially appreciated how Suskind did not hold back on what to put in the book, showing the true life of Cedric and not something painted with pretty colors. My overall rating for this book is 4 out of 5 stars. My favorite chapter had to be 7, where Cedric finally goes off to college. Cedric has always been this quiet reserved kid but when he gets to the dorms he has to put up with a roommate. We also see Cedric going through the process of picking his classes and choosing his books. Meeting and getting used to new places is always hard, which is why seeing him adapt is so important. It’s also warming to see how Cedric interacts with his mother on the car ride there and how well they get along. despite all the nerves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Hope in the Unseen is an award winning novel written by Ron Suskind. The reason that I read the book was for educational purposes that has brought new knowledge about certain things. My AP class was given the task of reading the book, in which we learned about school pertaining to a young man named Cedric Jennings. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 due to the storytelling, and how we as readers learn about a young man’s journey through difficult times. I am not a person that likes to read, but this book changed the way that I thought about reading due to Suskind’s way of writing his syntax made for an easier way to understand the story. I am glad to have read this book because I am learning about college, which is my next step. Being a high school senior makes this book enjoyable, and I am able to know that I need to get my life together. Ron Suskind writing about Cedric helps with understanding more about this “unseen”, and what is to happen next. The novel showed why it was named A Hope in the Unseen, due to many different ahah moments that Cedric has encountered in his life. The novel shows Cedric’s life and how he is having new beginnings in life when he pushes through the hardships in life, even though he is seen to hold himself back from his lack of experience. This book is a book to read it has many rollercoasters of escaping the environment that they live in now to wanting to be different and not seen as someone who has a certain skin color. Rom Suskind does not only speak of Cedric’s life, but also about the people that play a key role in Cedric’s journey to becoming someone new. Suskind knows how to keep the audience engaged when wondering what is to happen next. The author reaches his target audience which is high school students who learn about what is to happen next in life, and also that everything is not as amazing as they believe it to be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kyra Robinson A Hope in The Unseen: Review Written by Ron Suskind, A Hope in the Unseen is the story of future- focused Cedric Jennings. Suskind documents Jennings from his junior year at Ballou High School throughout his college years attending Brown University. Eating lunch alone and not having almost any friends, Suskind journals the life of the honors student whose ambition is fueled by his dream of attending a prestigious college. Cedric uses his high GPA to fight against being labeled as a poor, uneducated, black male that did not make it out of his dangerous neighborhood. Cedric faces the reality that he is not as intelligent as he thought once he gets to college and realizes that some students had the privilege of going to a school with a good educational system. This ultimately puts more pressure on Cedric as he struggles to find his place in this large world of diverse people with a broader education. One of the central themes is the problems of inner-city education systems, and how these school systems effect students throughout their lives. The purpose for reading this novel is to display to high school students that despite what environment they may reside or the school they attend, we have to find our true purpose in what we aspire to do. Where we want to go in life. Regardless of how long it may take to reach our goal, it will be accomplished through hard work and having a hope in the unseen. I would rate this novel three out of five stars because it is a very great detail of the young Cedric Jennings rising above his limitations. I like A Hope in the Unseen because it provides an authentic story of the difficulties there are for students today like it was for Jennings. However, it is showcased through the life story of only one student. If the novel discussed another story of a student from similar, or even worse, situations as Cedric, it would give the young audience a more positive reception once we learn they both excelled in college after facing many conflicts. My least favorite chapter in the novel is “Skin Deep” because Cedric feels defeated after struggling to complete the summer program at M.I.T, almost becoming content with how life is for him now. Suskind touches upon affirmative action or favoring members of a disadvantaged group who currently suffer or historically have suffered from discrimination within a culture, and in the novel how this effects Cedric. My most favorite chapter in A Hope in The Unseen is “To Him Who Endureth”. As Cedric graduates from high school, he acknowledges his faith in god to take him further with his education because he has brought his to where he is now. Cedric was extremely happy, radiant, and prepared for the next step in his life. Suskind use of diction, pathos, ethos, and bildungsroman throughout the novel enhances the theme on the life of Cedric Jennings. Ron Suskind’s writing style of writing is unique, simple, and understanding, Overall, this novel has a made overwhelming success through the years.
Jeremiah Hale More than 1 year ago
The book was written by Ron Suskind who is a well credited author and reward winning journalist. The book is called A Hope In The Unseen and is related to almost every situation that happens throughout the story. The reason I read the book was for my AP class and my amazing teacher, Mrs. Stewart, chose it for us. Overall, I did not really like the book because it was not that interesting. It was mostly about Cedric being cocky and thinking that every white person is out to get him at the beginning. Also, I did not like Cedric's mom because she was an ill fit parent and extremely irresponsible. My least favorite chapter was the good bye to yesterday because it was not a lot of interesting things happening in that chapter. However, I do not have a favorite chapter because I found the other chapters equally interesting. Moreover, Suskind's writing style was great because he used colloquial. He also made the book have a similar mood and tone of optimism. Lastly, I liked his diction and prose because he made the story seem more interesting than it was at moments. All in all, the book was good, but there was not enough action to make you not want to stop reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel “A Hope in the Unseen” was very alluring and very well constructed. The book gave different viewpoints from different characters and how they felt throughout each situation and obstacle they encountered. The author, Rob Suskind, had a very precise syntax within the book. He wrote the book this way so the readers could understand it and connect to the characters on an emotional level. The main character, Cedric, has this long struggling journey to getting into a good college and avoiding any negativity coming his way, which is the purpose of reading this book this semester, to show a point of view on how college is tough, and you may have to encounter a lot to reach your goals no matter the circumstances. The novel gives us different racial perspectives too in college, so we can understand how one race might have it way easier than another. I personally liked that the best about the book because you can see how Cedric comes from an entirely different background then his roommates and classmates, but he continues to push forward and show how much he can do just like the other kids. This books’ rating is an eight out of ten from my personal rating. My favorite chapter out of A Hope in the Unseen is chapter six. This is my favorite chapter because Cedric is seeing a lot and becoming a stronger individual. He got a job as an intern, so he was making his own money, he was realizing what the real world was about and was mostly focused on himself and getting into Brown. Even though Cedric was still exposed to this bad neighborhood that he lives in, he continues to be himself and focusing on getting out of there and doing amazing things. The author’s writing style was good, I understood the book to its full potential. Suskind does use an example of irony because the professor thought that Cedric was not going to finish strong, but he did and got into Brown. I do not have a least favorite chapter, but my second-best chapter would be chapter two. It gives a very good introduction to Cedric and where he comes from and how his life will be challenging for him. Overall, this is a great book and I would recommend this to a friend and other students around the world to read and connect to.