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A Hope in the Unseen is set in the city of Washington, D.C., in the 1990s, where Cedric Jennings works to elevate himself out of hardship as well as the pathway to attending Brown University. The book showcases Cedric’s accomplishments and failures along the way, centering on the strife that African Americans all over the world face when they strive to advance their social/economic situations. During the story, Cedric works hard to fit in without losing his sense of who he is. However, it becomes very difficult as Cedric gets implemented into certain stereotypes because of his race. The book builds on the idea of race as a social issue, and how it’s frequently done and perceived through learned beliefs and practices.

The biographical novel is a tale from the end of high school to the beginning of college life in the experience of Cedric Jennings. In addition to the effects of struggling in an inner-city school, Cedric deals with the issue of scarcity and surviving day to day as his single mother works but falls short of being able to pay for their needs, delaying his desire of one day being able to attend an Ivy League college without any downfalls.

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Ron Suskind’s observations of Cedric’s strifes pinpointed the very issue of inequality in the use of education as well as social life, this is only clear when Cedric becomes aware of how he moves outside of his world. Cedric’s confidence, as well as his knowledge of the division observed in our world, were effective for him to rise above and overcome improbable circumstances. The book was honest and very inspiring, leaving me with much to contemplate, and debate regarding our education system in lower-income schools, and one’s ability to change his/her socio-economic status with the limited resources being provided.

The author’s style in A Hope in the Unseen is very journalistic in tone, written with an emphasis on the opinions of many characters (deriving from different backgrounds) while balancing them out with oppositions. ‘Cedric nods, but his lips are pursed..he just wants to be part of something bigger, with kids – black kids, Hispanics, whatever. With everyone being a top achiever, just like him.’ Statistics also get brought up in the book, such as the education rates measured in the poor districts of DC, or the fact that African Americans made up a very small percentage of students going to college in the early 1900s. ‘I am constantly having to play catch-up with guys who’ve spent the past five years speaking three languages, visiting Europe, and reading all the right books… they just don’t get it. Where I come from, people don’t go to France to study.’

What makes A Hope in the Unseen is that it’s more than just a mediocre book, it levitates the hopes and fears that people have when questioned about who they are and what expectations they hope to transcend. This was one of the many questions I kept coming back to as I read through the book and was also a big reason I would completely recommend this book to another reader. I was able to get the feeling and momentum during the entire book which made every page worth it and engaging as well.

A Hope in the Unseen is truly a touching story for any person. It gives hope to anyone trying to make it in life, yet, enforces the importance of social issues persisting in our country from the human capital to the cultural network. Throughout Cedric’s life, he touches and details on the irrelevance of ‘standardized testing’ as well as ethnic displacement, while also going through the long road to a world of prosperity. The book effectively taught me the value of taking life lessons to heart and gave me both an example and an inspiration. As Ron Suskind (the author) stated: ‘The substance of faith is a hope in the unseen.’

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