Book Reviews

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

If you’re interested in a book about activism and resilience, Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman is for you. It stokes rage and leaps your heart into your throat. Yet it’s also a story about Savannah coming to terms with her future and what she wants from it. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: racism, microaggressions, racial slur, colorism

The feeling of growing up or spending time in a mostly white space is utterly relatable for me. While my college wasn’t as homogeneous as Savannah’s, I experienced high school with microaggresions I didn’t even realize at the time. Yet the racism that Savannah experiences is on another level. Chasing the pride of the prestige, Savannah’s family and her are set on the glory. But she doesn’t realize the burden of the racism which falls heavily on her shoulders. The ways that these spaces revolve around apologizing for each other only.

That rarely see a need for change and gaslight you when you demand one. There Savannah has to balance her self and her identity. To wonder if she should play the game knowing that the stakes are even higher for her. Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman is rage inducing from the beginning. How the racism descends like a fog, submerging us into a culture of excuses for certain people. The way the white privilege and majority seek to excuse their behaviors – any excuse to not interrrogate their own selves.

How they never face accountability for their actions. And how the cost of exposing and demanding change falls on the backs of marginalized folks. We think that these institutions symbolize escape. Yet instead, they are full of blame, token minorities, and expectations on our shoulders. Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman is full of anger, resistance, but also pockets of love and the journey for seeing ourselves. For realize our own power and what it means to take a stand. Find Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite book set on a college campus?

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