Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee

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Savannah thought things would be different in college, especially after sacrificing so much to go to Wooddale University. Her mother worked constantly and she completely gave up her social life to get perfect grades, all for her future. She thought being the first in her family to go to college, especially one as prestigious as Wooddale, would be one of the best experiences of her life. However, her excitement quickly turns sour when she realizes she is one of the only Black people on campus. On it’s own this may not be a huge problem, but when the statue of Wooddale’s first Black president gets vandalized and no one does anything about it, Savannah can’t stay silent. Her mama told her to keep her head down, but Savannah is willing to sacrifice her future to uncover the secrets and scandals of Wooddale’s past.

This book did a good job of navigating difficult topics in an informative way, while also moving the plot forward. The obvious racism directed towards Savannah and other Black characters happens more often than it seems, and this book brings that to light. Savannah is also a well written main character and her determination and boldness enhance the story. She has a strong moral compass and which dictates her choices throughout the book. I think that the diversity of the characters added another layer to the story. Within all the characters, socioeconomic status affected the way they were perceived by others on campus. I also liked that there were quite a few twists, and that the supporting characters were shrouded in mystery, making it so that it was hard to know who to trust. The only thing I disliked was that all the racism Savannah faced was very obvious, when in reality it can be more nuanced and come in the form of microaggressions. Overall, I think this book had a good concept and a meaningful message.

Something memorable about this book was the juxtaposition between Savannah’s neighborhood at home and her life at Wooddale. Her mostly Black neighborhood can’t even have pizza delivered to them after seven, while Wooddale has a female Black president. Savannah calls both these places home, but watching these two separate worlds collide was intriguing.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

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