REQUIRED READING FOR THE DISENFRANCHISED FRESHMAN by Kristen R. Lee

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

I deserve to be here.

Savannah has to repeat those words to herself every day–several times a day–just to remind herself that she hasn’t shown up at the wrong university. She’s one of only 100 Black students at the prestigious Ivy League school and her white classmates haven’t exactly gone out of their way to make her feel welcome. Hopefully, her mother is right that if she makes it all four years in this place, people will respect her degree more than they would have if she studied at an HBCU. But Savannah is starting to doubt it.

Savannah’s whole life has reinforced the reality that no matter what she does, some people will always assign her a label based on the color of her skin alone. And deserving to be somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll be allowed to stay–whether that place is a pizza parlor or an elite university. So when a statue on campus is desecrated with blackface, Savannah is torn between wanting to speak out and fearing possible repercussions, especially since she’s pretty sure the racist behind the hate crime is a rich kid whose family has a long history at the school. But some things are too important to keep quiet about–even if they might cost your future.

This gripping, thought-provoking contemporary novel is a must-read! Although it is set on a college campus, the cliques, power dynamics, and constant struggle to find your niche and to balance school with life will be relatable to every high school student. Lee slams racist institutions with a blunt honesty that is refreshing, convicting, and guaranteed to get every reader thinking about how they will navigate the college environment and confront those injustices when they inevitably encounter them. I highly recommend this wonderful debut!

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