Book Reviews

REQUIRED READING FOR THE DISENFRANCHISED FRESHMAN BY KRISTEN R. LEE // blog tour book review: a stellar debut tackling racism on elite college campuses ft. a giveaway

Hi hello friends!

And welcome to the last stop on the Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman blog tour. Very honoured to end off this tour! I’m also particularly excited about this one as I’m a college student, so this appealed by just the title. Anyways, I’ll stop blabbering and let’s get into the review <3<3

Big thanks to Turn The Pages Tours for having me, I’m so happy to be here!

Title: Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman
Author: Kristen R. Lee
Page count: 336
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Date published: 1 February 2022
Genre: New adult contemporary fiction


A striking debut novel about racism on elite college campuses. Fans of Dear White People will embrace this activist-centered contemporary novel about a college freshman grappling with the challenges of attending an elite university with a disturbing racist history–that may not be as distant as it seems.

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 microaggressions 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?

A stunning, challenging, and timely debut about racism and privilege on college campuses.

Big thanks to Crown Readers at Random House Childrens and Turn The Pages Tours for the eARC via Netgalley! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Order your copy now ~ purchase links: preorder //

STAR RATING: (3.5 out of 5 stars)

Yet another moment of silence for that title and COVER OMGGGG IM IN LOVE!!!!!!

Did I just devour this entire book in the just under half a day? Mayhaps so.

I also read this at a very coincidental and kind of perfect time as I’m just about to start a new semester. Not a freshman but still.

I was reading on a bit of a tight schedule so I both read along and listened to this book via audiobook, which I definitely recommend. I thought the narrator did a brilliant job and I could follow along very clearly, and I was going on 2x speeds oops,,,

Let’s start up with how important this story is and how I don’t think such a topic has been discussed in this genre before, which I really appreciated. Racism on campuses is an issue not talked about enough and I think the way Kristen R. Lee approached the topic was impactful and simultaneously very easily accessible!!!

Savannah was a main character full of spunk and I don’t think there was a better character for this novel to follow. Lee told this story through the eyes of a freshman (first year where I’m from) and it made for us as readers to get to experience this college through fresh eyes, which I loved.

This book also had me fuming, and it truly baffles me that a person would say half of the stuff being said to Savannah. On like her first day? Maybe it doesn’t baffle me.

However, my issue lies with the writing and character development. I found this book so easily readable and I flew through it, but I also can’t help but feel that the dialogue was slightly off and it didn’t always feel like they were humans, which made me struggle to connect with them. I also don’t think the author explored her characters enough. I loved Savannah’s mom and Tasha, but I would have liked to see more of them. It felt like there wasn’t enough space between the severity of the activism and for us to get to know the characters, and also see more campus life.

That being said, I absolutely loved the ending and it tied everything together really well. I’m super looking forward to what Kristen R. Lee writes next!!!

Overall, I highly recommend this if you’re looking for something short but still packs a punch, that Lee has filled to the brim with discussions that we need to have. Read for an empowering debut from an author who definitely has more in store <3<3<3

Up for grabs we have THREE (3) finished copies of Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee. This giveaway will be open to US residents only, three separate winners will be chosen. This giveaway will run from January 30th to February 6th at 12 AM.


Kristen R. Lee is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. After graduating from college, she began to write her experiences attending a predominantly white institution, which led to the first draft of Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman. She’s worked as a mentor for foster youth and has interned in a school setting, where she counseled middle-school-aged children. Writing stories that reflect often-unheard voices is what she strives to do. Learn more about Kristen at

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One Comment

  • Sumedha

    I’ve only heard of this book because of the blog tour I think but the title is catchy and intriguing. I’m definitely going to try to read this sometime. Despite the many books set in the US that I’ve read, racism in college campuses weren’t addressed much. So this should be enlightening.

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