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October 08 , 2008

Quicklet on Ron Suskind's A Hope in the Unseen



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Many people have read Ron Suskinds A Hope in the Unseen and been inspired by the story of a boy who used his intelligence, faith, and drive to claw his way up from the ghetto to the Ivory Tower. Some view the book as a scathing commentary on how the American education system fails its students. Yet others wonder what the books message is supposed to be. A call to reform Affirmative Action? A study of what it means to be black in America (as seen through white eyes)? An aggrandizement of the Ivy League? A look at race relations? Class relations?

Ron Suskinds 1998 narrative non-fiction A Hope in the Unseen focuses on the story of Cedric Jennings, a boy who managed to make it out of Southeast Washington, DC and gain acceptance into Brown University. Suskind met Cedric while doing a story for The Wall Street Journal on high academic achievers in the dangerous inner city Ballou Senior High School. Unlike the other honor roll students who were afraid to talk to Suskind, Cedric was proud of his achievements and welcomed the reporter into his life. After the article was so successful that it won Suskind a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing in 1995, the idea for A Hope in the Unseen began to take shape.


Lacey Kohlmoos is a writer, traveler and lover of the arts. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in Drama & the Studies of Women and Gender, the only thing she knew for sure was that she wanted to travel. So, she embarked on a 10 12 month round-the-world trip, then traveled to Costa Rica where she spent one year teaching elementary school English in a small mountain town. Throughout her two years of travels, she's always kept a blog.


At Ballou Senior High School in Southeast Washington, DC it is not an uncommon occurrence for fires to be set in the bathrooms, for knife fights to break out in the hallways, and for the classrooms to be only half filled with students. The kids at Ballou have grown up where survival either means becoming a part of the violent culture or trying not to get noticed as you work towards a better life.

Cedric Jennings, pushed by his mother Barbara, has vowed to do everything in his power to get out of the ghetto and into an Ivy League University. Unlike the other academic achievers at Ballou, however, Cedric refuses to be ashamed of his achievements and drive. As a result, he is constantly ridiculed with taunts of being a nerd, a whitey, and too proud. Cedric does not deny that he is a proud person, but he is driven by much more than that.

Desperate to get her son out of Southeast DC, Barbara has pushed him to achieve academic success and climb the social ladder despite her financial troubles and violent upbringing. A spiritual woman who attends multiple services a week at the Scripture Cathedral, she has instilled in Cedric a strict religious code and strong sense of morals. Cedric also finds support in Mr. Taylor, his chemistry teacher and mentor who often quotes scripture and helps him get into MITs MITES summer achievement program.


Quicklet on Ron Suskind's A Hope in the Unseen

Ron Suskind's A Hope in the Unseen

+ About A Hope in the Unseen

+ About Ron Suskind

+ Overall Summary

+ Chapter-by-Chapter Commentary and Summary

+ ...and much more

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