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A Hope In The Unseen

4 Pages 978 Words

The world is not promised to young men like Cedric Lavar Jennings. But sometimes they find a way to make it deliver.
Such is the inspirational story of A Hope in the Unseen, by Wall Street Journal writer Ron Suskind, a remarkably intimate work that documents the talents, frustrations and aspirations of a poor but determined black teenager before and after his successful bid to attend a top-notch college.
All that Cedric wants is a shot at the American Dream: He wants to go to school, work hard, and make something of himself. Not an easy task for a kid from Southeast Washington, D.C., whose mother is an input clerk at a federal agency and whose drug-dealing father is pulling time in a Northern Virginia prison. Harder still at Frank W. Ballou Senior High, where Cedric, a junior, is the curve-wrecker -- the guy whose name means nerd. Students mock him as "whitey" because he excels in a special math-and-science program and takes his grades seriously. In a school plagued by shootings, knifings and drugs, it's amazing that Cedric survives. Surely his success is an act of faith, right?
That question not only propels this intriguing celebration of spirit, it also exposes the crack in Cedric's otherwise galvanized existence. He doubts. And with each success, the doubts sound louder.
Still, for most of his 16 years, Cedric lives in a triangulation among home (a 19-inch television is a treasured possession), school, and the Scripture Cathedral -- a strict, largely blue-collar, Pentecostal church that preaches sacrifice, faith and devotion. His mother Barbara, ever attentive to the provident Bishop Long, is a churchwoman in good stead. She tithes the expected 10 percent of her hard-earned minimum-wage salary, cooks for church functions, and attends weekday evening services.
Cedric prays, sings well, and knows scripture so well that when a teacher misquotes Hebrews 11:1, saying: "The substance of faith is a hope in the unseen," Cedric corr...

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