This book is a biographical account of Cedric, a SE Washington DC high school student who was raised by a single mother and dealt with a litany of problems unframiliar to most middle or upper income people. His father is a professional drug addict/dealer/conman/womanizer who spends his time in prision or ignoring Cedric. His mother is single, has little formal education, and only a passing framiliarity gleaned from TV and books with how the world beyond SE DC functions. Cedric himself is in the unenviable posistion of high-wire acting himself through life with one foot pointed towards the hazy be-something future and the other shoe lace tied firmly to the world he currently has to live in. He has to distance himself from everyone and everthing he has ever known in order to attempt admission to a world he's not sure will accept him. He eventually gets into Brown University, but this isn't some feel-good look-how-well-the-American-Dream-works-if-you-just-try story. Rather, and this is why I enjoyed this book, it shows the very real problems a poor kid faces in trying to enter the middle-class arena and even begin to fight for the 'American Dream.' Cedric, (and the reader,) are forced to consider the differences between being Black and being Black and poor, between being a high achiever and being highly accomplished, and between what can be done with differing resources. It's an underdog story without the bull-crud, one of the very few books that actually tells the story of a poor person and not just a 'poor peopel' story.
The story focuses on Cedric, a poor, bright and up and coming student in a inner city school in DC. Here the smart students are teased, bullied and even threatened. That makes it difficult to excel if others are going to hurt you, confront you and claim you think you are special or better. It is compared to a big bucket full of crabs, some trying to reach the top to get out and flee. But the crabs on the bottom want to keep these high reachers down, pulling him down. No one seems to get ahead. Your own school mates try to keep you down with them or even lower. Fights break out, hostility is felt when students who have achieved good grades are singled out and receive awards, praise and money.
I came from NYC but attended a better school although I had to face constant discrimination due to my culture, economic status and race. You have to stay strong, study, support each other. Find what help you can get and use it. Help each other and be strong.
I was so very happy when they went on to colleges. A new type of environment and now classes are quite different from HS before. Some have to take remedial courses to catch up with the other students coming from a different school. Study, study, study and take a little time to raise your eyes and head up and look at the world.
I enjoyed reading this and became a tad angry when others would victimize those boys or girls who could do the work and succeed. Shame on you bullies. Just don't give up Hope, Hope in the Lord!
Cedric Jennings graduates from Ballou Senior High, a crime-infested school in Washington, DC, with honor and pride and strong support from his mother. He goes on to Brown University, an ivy league school. Cedric truimphs against great odds and hopes for a future of acceptance and reward that he struggles each day to envision.
I really enjoyed the book - a fast read and an inspiring story. There were some parts of the book that the author seemed to use to fill pages and didn't particularly make a whole lot of sense to the overall story but overall, he did a great job of sucking the reader in. I would highly recommend this book to everyone!
This is an extraordinary story. It seems like a happy ending when a disadvantaged but smart and hardworking boy from the worst school ever gets into an Ivy League school. But that's just the beginning. Rich, complicated, thoroughly involving and deeply moving.
This is a wonderful, true story of a young man's grit, determination & faith to overcome the education he received in the poorest high school in D.C. plus growing up in a single parent home. His mother is an amazing person who put her own life aside to help her son succeed. He graduated from high school & was admitted to Brown University. The story cronicles in detail his last year of high school & his first year at Brown. I highly recommend this book for those who truly want to understand what it takes to make it out of the Black Ghetto.
A must read: for Blacks who are struggling to make it, through high school, through university, facing obstacles every day. for the white world, to give you (and me) a glimpse of how difficult it can be for a promising young black student to face the taunts of his peers, to be told "you'll never make it" and to have to do 'better' just to break even. But Cedric did it, because of his mother's constant encouragement and presence, and because of his "hope in the unseen." I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK.