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

Title: Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman
Author: Kristen R. Lee
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 336 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (TN and )

SummarySavannah Howard thought everyone followed the same checklist to get into Wooddale University:
Take the hardest classes
Get perfect grades
Give up a social life to score a full ride to a top school
But now that she’s on campus, it’s clear there’s a different rule book. Take student body president, campus royalty, and racist jerk Lucas Cunningham. It’s no secret money bought his acceptance letter. And he’s not the only one. Savannah tries to keep to head down, but when the statue of the university’s first Black president is vandalized, how can she look away? Someone has to put a stop to the injustice. But will telling the truth about Wooddale’s racist past cost Savannah her own future?
First-time novelist Kristen R. Lee delivers a page-turning, thought-provoking story that exposes racism and hypocrisy on college campuses, and champions those who refuse to let it continue.

Review:  I have had this book on my TBR shelf for a little while and while I was packing up my books this one called to me so I decided to keep it out and read it. It felt like a YA read was the right thing to read in that moment.

As usual, I didn't reread the summary of this book so I had no idea what was coming and I found this book tense. I was so afraid the main character, Savannah, was going to get hurt. She is so brave, standing up and speaking out for what she knows is right, and going against the establishment (think white, rich, and powerful). Why does that mean she is the one in danger and not the racists she is exposing?! I had to walk away numerous times to postpone what I was sure what going to happen.

Although on the surface, this book is about a mostly white university and the experiences of one woman of color, it is also about figuring out what we want in life. Do we want to feel safe, is it important to be ourselves no matter the consequences, how much are we willing to fight, and who are we, really? Savannah just wants to be herself without having to change to be accepted, to wear her hair natural, be as loud as she wants, and do well in school. Doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Lee does a great job of showing the angst of college, the trauma of racism, and the impact of privilege.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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