Required Reading For the Disenfranchised Freshman - Review
*I received an e-arc from Crown Books For Young Readers for the TBR and Beyond Book Tour via Net Galley. All reviews are my own.*
Welp, this novel didn't piss me off as bad as I thought it would. I thought I would get Rosewood versus 12 Years A Slave vibes. Coming from debut author Kristen R. Lee, Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman is a story about a black girl's experience in a predominantly white institution. Yes, it has all the stereotypes you can expect in this story. Defacing historical black monuments, a privileged narrative, microaggression, racial undertones, unseasoned food, you name it!
"Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sites were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no?
Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face-to-face with microagressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then, Clive Wilmington's statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale's most popular student and son to a local prominent family. Soon, Savannah is unearthing the hidden secrets of Wooddale's racist history. But what's the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale's past cost Savannah her own future?"
I want to keep this review short, so I won't come off as biased. Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman is essential for all to read, and I think every race should experience it. But I also feel that it's detrimental to those who don't understand this book's reason. It's a help-hurt situation. Different races can peek at what goes through a black person's mind while being the minority in an institution. They can see the microaggression, the attitudes, and the backlash that comes from it all. But if a person chooses not to look beyond the scope of their livelihoods, are they really going to understand the purpose of it all?
I connected with the book in more ways than one. I rejoiced at the familiarity while also cursing the ignorance displayed through the text. I also had moments where I stood up for individuals that probably shouldn't have gotten the time of day from me. There wasn't much character development in any of the folks presented, and I wish we would've gotten more from them. Excluding the main character, who was overly obsessive during the entire story, all the secondary players felt hollow.
Overall I gave the book 3.5-stars. It's a quick read and a debate starter. I don't know how we got from blackfacing statues to uncovering an admission scandal, but kudos to Lee for writing this story. I wish I could delve into this review, but I know it will be a 12-page dissertation. I hope that whoever reads this has an open mind to think outside their own lives and experience nescience through a black girl's eyes.
Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman debuts February 1, 2022