A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League Summary & Study Guide

Ron Suskind
This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Hope in the Unseen.
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A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League Summary & Study Guide Description

A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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An incoming freshman at Brown University would note nothing unusual about junior Cedric Jennings. In fact, he would see a confident young man who obviously looks like he "belongs" there. This "belonging" is Cedric's personal "miracle."

Born into poverty in Southeastern Washington, D.C., Cedric Jennings is raised by his single mother, Barbara. His father, a career convict, is both physically and emotionally absent from the young boy's life. Vowing that her son will be the first child to break the family cycle, Barbara Jennings combines strict discipline and strong religious training to raise a son who becomes a serious, isolated scholar, steeped in the teachings of Bishop Long at the Scripture Cathedral. Together, mother and son forge a symbiotic relationship; she, sacrificing for him and he, in turn, becoming a testament to her hard work and faith.

Cedric survives the chaotic life at Ballou High School by keeping his head low and absorbing the ridicule and harassment that all achievers receive from the "crews" (gang members) and "wanna-bes," managing to have only very casual friendships with a few other students. Along the way, he also receives the mentoring of a few committed adults and, ultimately, the big prize - admission to Brown University.

Not having begun the race in the same place as the other Brown students, Cedric faces almost insurmountable challenges. His clearly inferior academic preparation and his lack of knowledge of "mainstream" American culture result in turbulent, sometimes devastating experiences during his freshman year. Rocky relationships with other students and struggles to keep up in classes cause Cedric to vacillate between abandoning his dream and mustering the courage and determination to prove that he is capable. The reality is that most young people in his situation fail. He emerges from this purgatory, however, to discover that he can fill the academic and social gaps and, in so doing, create his own unique identity as a combination of all the he was, is now, and will be.

Ron Suskind first met Cedric Jennings when he wrote a two-part series of articles about Ballou High School for The Wall Street Journal. Fascinated by the dilemmas of achieving students in inner-city high schools, he followed Cedric through his remaining high school career and on to Brown University. As he did so, and expanded his initial articles into a biography of this young man, he created a work that, at one level, tells the story of individual struggle against the odds but, at another, clearly depicts the inequalities that continue to plague American society.

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This section contains 427 words
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Buy the A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League Study Guide
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