Sunday, September 13, 2009

#BookReview: A Hope in the Unseen - Ron Suskind

Self-hate is alive and well in Cedric Jennings. This story, which won the author a Pulitzer Prize as a two part story in the Wall Street Journal, follows a Washington, DC student through high school into his freshman year at Brown University. To overcome adversity and make it from the inner city to the Ivy League is something to be applauded. To denigrate those that helped you along the way is something to be condemned.

Cedric Jennings is angry and with good reason, given the environment in which he's been raised. But his character is not at all likable. While in high school he continuously expresses disdain and contempt for those around him. His holier than thou attitude did not endear him to this reader. Believing that his attitude might change upon a shift to a new environment, Brown, I continued with the story, only to find that while his location changed, his attitude did not. The character continues to be contemptuous to those around him regardless of race, creed, color or socioeconomic standing. Understand that his problem is not with those around him, but with himself.

I'm puzzled as to why this young man was picked by the author to follow for several years. Yes, he survived and made it out, but there's nothing remarkable about him other than that. This book was a national bestseller when it came out in 1998 and received raving reviews from the mainstream, liberal media, perhaps wanting to believe that this young man was a shining example of what inner city black children could become with the assistance of whites in shining armor. Me? I'm unimpressed and underwhelmed.


  1. This book sounds interesting! If the writing style is interesting, I can ignore the unlikable, self-hating character.

    Sidenote: It was hard for me to read your review with this light purple color.

  2. I started reading this book. I get the sense that he struggles with insecurity but is it his age that makes him so self-hating or the teasing or the cirumstances of his life? I'm curious to find out more about the relationship between he and his mom, seems interesting. Don't like the 'savior' aspect or him being 'the one' in a school full of lost kids, but I'm compelled to read it.
    I'm also re-reading Sandra Cisneros 'Woman Hollering Creek'

  3. thanks! I'm halfway through but I could feel his self-hatred being planted before he was born. Imagine your dad telling your mom to pick between him and you before you're born. And his mom put so much hope into his success. He had to feel pressure. Then in high school how he wanted friends and girls to like him but he isolated himself. Really felt for him as a kid and wonder if he can ever get over those negative feelings. there are some deep issues to think about in this book. How can he not hate himself and those around him but at the same time he desires love and approval from those very same people. Thx for the link.