The five stars go equally to Ron Suskind the author and Cedric Jennings, the hero of the book. As any other review will tell you it is a story about a boy from the ghetto who somehow managed to learn something in his gang-infested high school (think Gangsta's Paradise) and made it to one of the Ivy League universities.
If you think this is some sort of Chicken Soup for the White Liberal Soul then you couldn't be more wrong. Basically the conclusion is: shit is bad, real bad. The challenges that Cedric had to face were many and of various kinds. Things that affluented white Americans take for granted, Cedric had to learn from scratch. The boy struggled not only academically but socially and culturally. And my heart went out to him and mind you, I am not the kind of person that even admits to having a heart at all. Don't tell my boyfriend but I think I developed a crush on Cedric.
Ron Suskind is not bad either. The social observation and psychological analysis are of greatest quality. There is nothing in the book that sounds patronising and judgemental. Suskind had a great idea of removing himself entirely from the narrative and making Cedric the focus of it, so we see the world through his eyes, rather than Suskind's. I know quite a few authors that are way too egocentric to even consider doing that because they just love starting their sentences with 'I'.
There were a few moments where I just had to smile, usually when Suskind tried to explain something about hip hop or r'n'b to his readers. It gave me that feeling you used to get when you were a teenager and your parents tried to be cool and engage in a conversation with you about some 'cool stuff'. And you felt slightly embarrassed but also warm inside because you knew they were trying.
Enough. Go read it. It is good. It had me on the edge of my seat when I was waiting with Cedric for each exam results. I even got excited when he was going through some calculus problems (stuff that normally sends me to sleep in no time).