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New Student Reader

2010-2011 New Student Reader


A Hope in the Unseen

An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League

By Ron Suskind

About the Book

Cedric Jennings is the illegitimate son of an off-and-on drug dealer/ex-con and a hardworking, badly paid mother; it is her single-minded vision to have the boy escape the mean ghetto streets unscathed. Cedric has listened to her and is, as the book opens, an A student at a run-down, dispirited Washington, DC, high school, where he treads a thin line between being tagged a nerd and being beaten by gang leaders. Suskind, a Wall Street Journal reporter, follows the African-American youth through his last two years of high school and freshman year at Brown University. Inspirational sermons at a Pentecostal church, guidance from his mother, a love of black music and singing, and a refuge in the logic of math combine with the young man's determination and faith in the future to keep him focused on his goal of a topflight college education. Despite many low moments and setbacks, Jennings's story is one of triumph within both cultures, black and white, which together and separately put tremendous obstacles in his path out of the inner city. It is a privilege and an inspiration for readers to accompany Cedric on part of his long, difficult journey to maturity.

Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA School Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc

About the Author

Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who has written some of America's most important works of nonfiction, framing national debates while exploring the complexities of human experience. (Taken from Monday May 3, 2010.)

About Cedric Jennings

jenningsA Hope in the Unseen ends with Cedric entering his junior year at Brown University. That was 1997. He went on to graduate in 1999 with a 3.3 average, majoring in education with a minor in applied math. With the Internet craze in full swing, Cedric – after spending a summer managing the Salvation Army office in Providence –took a job with, the online bookseller. A year later, he left that company for a job with MicroStrategy Inc., the large data-mining company based in Northern Virginia. As the new economy collapsed in early 2001, so did MicroStrategy's fortunes. Cedric, thinking through the winter that he might like to get more education, was prepared. On a Tuesday morning in April, he – along with many colleagues on the Microstrategy staff – received a pink slip. On Wednesday, he received a thick letter from Harvard's Graduate School of Education. In the spring of 2002, Cedric received his master's degree in education from Harvard with high marks. He spent the summer working at the Washington's centrist Progressive Policy Institute, analyzing national education policy. In the fall of 2004, he began another master's degree program, this time in social work, at the University of Michigan. He has grown up. The options and opportunities before him are vast.

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