Book Review: A Hope in the Unseen

June 29, 2010

A Hope in the Unseen, written by Ron Suskind, is the amazing story of Cedric, a teenager who grew up in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. in the early 1990s and his determination to leave and attend an Ivy League school.

It is a true success story among too many unsuccessful ones. His force of character, his faith and the unfailing support of his mother helped him beat the odds and continue on his chosen path.  Rarely can someone face so many challenges and still persevere.

Through Cedric’s personal story, Suskind dives deep into the issues of race and acceptance of differences during his time at Brown University. Cedric had to face the daily struggles of being a poor African-American boy exposed to the incomprehension and rejection of his peers in his neighborhood while struggling to fit in and understand the life of those he has chosen to emulate at a highly competitive school.

The reader not only hears from the voice of Cedric, but also from his high school and college classmates. Suskind recounts their fears, insecurities, tense moments, and the difficulties at understanding and accepting true diversity from all sides of the spectrum.

One of the most important lessons taken from A Hope in the Unseen is not losing one’s identity in the desperate need to integrate. Cedric’s story is about leaving anger on the side and choosing instead to understand and accept others while keeping one’s sense of self.

At the end of his freshmen year at Brown, Cedric came to the conclusion that  “being here doesn’t alter who he is, that he’s becoming sure enough of himself that he can get right up close, feel the pulse, smell the air, see what there is to see, and not lose himself.  He can stay or leave.  He can decide, because now he knows what’s here.  The choices are all his.”

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