In a striking debut novel, a single father and his son discover what lies beneath the gilded façade ofa tony Upper East Side private school: an endemic of over-medicated children.Every afternoon Sean Benning picks up his son, Toby, on the marble steps that lead into the prestigiousBradley School. Everything at Bradley is accelerated3rdgraders read at the 6thgrade level, they havelabs and facilities to rival most universities, and the chess champions are the bullies. A single dad andstruggling artist, Sean sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the power-soccer-mom cliques and ladies-who-lunch that congregate on the steps every afternoon. But at least Toby is thriving and getting the besteducation money can buy. Or is he? When Sea starts getting pressure from the school to put Toby on medication for ADD, somethingsmells fishy, and it isn't the caviar that was served at last week's PTA meeting. Toby's "issues" in schoolseem, to Sean, to be nothing more than normal behavior for an eight-year-old boy. But maybe Sean justisn't seeing things clearly, which has been harder and harder to do since Toby's new teacher, Jess, startedat Bradley. And the school has Toby's best interests at heart, right? But what happens when the pressureto not just keep up, but to exceed, takes hold? When things take a tragic turn, Sean realizes that the priceof this accelerated life is higher than he could have ever imagined.
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About the Author
Bronwen Hruska,the publisher of Soho Press, has worked as a journalist and screenwriter fortwenty years. Her articles have appeared intheNew York Times,theLos Angeles Times,MoreMagazine,Entertainment Weekly,Cosmopolitan,theVillage Voice,andtheSan FranciscoChronicle.She has sold an original screenplay to Columbia Pictures and an original televisionpilots to NBC, CBS, Lifetime, and Sony television. She lives in Manhattan with her two sons.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Everyone can and should learn more about how our schools are encouraging the use of (and the results of use of) ritalin by our young children. The author of Accelerated, Bronwen Hruska, does a very good job of making the reader aware of the dangers.
Once the reader gets past and accepts the initial premise of this novel, that there is an almost universal conspiracy to boost children’s learning power by declaring them victims of ADD or ADHD and prescribing Ritalin or similar drugs, then it becomes a heart-warming story. Sean Benn, a single father (the result of his wife’s abandoning him and their young son, Toby), is pressured to dose the boy, against his better judgment, after having refused for quite some time, It should be noted that Toby’s best friend had gone into a coma and died. The school told everyone it was the result of a peanut allergy. Shortly afterward, Toby fell during PT, suffering from an arrhythmia, and ended up in the hospital, comatose. From that point the plot takes off in dramatic fashion. Certainly the novel’s raison d’etre is a significant topic. When over-medication is routinely used to force students to accelerate their ability to learn, something is wrong. So exposure is warranted. But to raise the possibility that this technique is so widespread across the country, aided and abetted by pharmaceutical companies, while worrisome, is kind of hard to believe. But maybe such exaggeration is needed to make the point. And perhaps “worrisome” is required as well. Written with a smooth hand and tightly plotted, the book is recommended.