my challenges

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Accelerated, by Brownwen Hruska.

This book is a timely look at a controversial subject that is being discussed and considered all over the country:  the over-medicating of children and young-adults.  It takes place at a top-level private elementary school in New York City, presumably a fictional school, though I'm sure similar schools can be found in many communities throughout the United States.

 The story makes use of caricatures of virtually every stereotype you can imagine, from the rich, lonely, over-sexed mother who makes passes at every father she takes a fancy to, to the mothers who are willing to put their children through virtually anything to try to give them an edge -- in this case occupational therapy to learn how to hold a pencil properly and eyesight training to strengthen eyesight and thereby improve SAT scores in their child's future, to the mother who can do nothing but scream and sob hysterically when her son is rushed to the hospital, while her big-shot husband blusters and orders and demands answers now.  I could not decide for the longest time whether I loved or hated the use of caricatures, or even whether it was intentional.  Ultimately I decided not only that it was intentional, but also that it was a very effective way of showing just how ridiculous people will act in the misguided interest of giving their children an edge in life, whether that is by unnecessary and ridiculous therapy, or by giving their children prescription medication (for ADHD, depression, etc.) at the first suggestion that they might be not quite as focused at school as mom and dad would like, to placing ridiculous expectations on young children -- suggesting that they are somehow lacking or inferior or behind their peers because they act like a normal kid.

I did not necessarily find this an easy book to read; as I said I wasn't entirely sold on the caricature method until nearly the end of the book.  At the same time, it was interesting and often good for a chuckle.  I mean really, who sends their perfectly-sighted child to special therapy to strengthen their eyesight in the hopes of improving their standardized test scores ten years in the future?  It also shone a much-needed lighter spotlight on the over-medication of children.  Over all I recommend this book, and would give it a score of 3.5 out of 5.

 I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher.  This did not affect this review.

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