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Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska
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Accelerated (2012)

by Bronwen Hruska

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884137,094 (3.31)1
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This was an advanced reader copy that I won on Good reads. Good book with great story and characters. I'm thankful to not have put my child in such a school. It is unbelievable that schools have this much power but when the first boy died I would have taken my child out of the school immediately, regardless of who was paying for it. The truth about ADD and the drug industry was well-told and honest. ( )
  bandpmom | Jun 5, 2015 |
Sean Benning has recently become a single father to 8 year old Toby. Toby’s mother has left them after struggling with mental health issues. Sean is an artist who has a “day job” at a gossip magazine where he writes uninspiring stories about the stars. Toby attends the prestigious Bradley School, one of Manhattan’s top private schools thanks to his maternal grandparents, who pay the exorbitant fees. Sean does not quite fit in with the other parents. They are high flyers with powerful jobs or highly motivated gym attendees and women-who-lunch who are not quite sure how to include him.

Toby appears happy to be at the school; he enjoys his friends and likes his new teacher, until his best friend is discovered unconscious on the school steps. The school community is told he suffered as a result of a peanut allergy, but Sean and Toby’s teacher are suspicious. When the school authorities begin to pressure Sean into seeking help for Toby’s apparent ADD, Sean is confused and apprehensive.

We live in an easy fix society where medication is all too easy to come by. What is to stop the educators of our young children from pressuring parents to force conformity in children through the use of medication? When children are passive, perhaps they are easier to teach and perhaps it is easier to achieve higher, better and more impressive outcomes.

The accelerated children at Hruska’s Bradley School definitely showed impressive results. But at what cost? ( )
  judylou | Nov 2, 2013 |
Via NetGalley

Sean's wife, Ellie, left him and their eight-year-old son, Toby, four months ago. Sean and Toby are getting by, but Sean is under pressure from the Bradley school - an expensive, exclusive, elite private Manhattan prep school (Toby's tuition is paid for by Ellie's parents) - to have Toby evaluated for ADD/ADHD and put on medication. Neither Sean nor Toby's tutor, Noah, nor Toby's new teacher, Jess Harper, think Toby needs the meds, but the school keeps pushing, and eventually Sean consents.

This proves to have tragic consequences for Toby, which propels Sean into an investigation of the Bradley school. How many other kids are on unnecessary meds, and why does the school insist that they are necessary? Meanwhile, Sean falls for Jess, and Ellie returns. Accelerated is a literary novel with elements of the thriller: uncertainty over who to trust, what people's motives are, whether the scandal is real or imagined. There are glamorous situations - a party with Bill Clinton in attendance, a Knicks game - but Sean acknowledges their outrageous improbability even as he is present within them, in a "can you believe this? do people really live like this?" sort of way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, both for the characters and the story. Sean and Toby's relationship is especially believable (more so than Sean and Jess's). Certain plot points resolve more easily than perhaps they would in real life, but that's the prerogative of fiction.

Quotes:

His ease stood in stark contrast to the twitchy guy who sat a few seats away. He turned out to be a billionaire Google geek and chewed nervously like a bunny under surveillance. (121)

He kept waiting for the regret, but it wasn't coming. After the past six months, he couldn't help thinking of New York as a trap, an amped-up bubble where everything had to be better, faster, more impressive....It was a unique brand of insanity that thrived in Manhattan. (264-65) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
This book hit close to home for me, and if you're a parent, grandparent, or just want to know what schools are really like today...read this!
While it's set as a fictional novel, with lots of suspense and humor, it's something that occurs (hopefully not to a criminal level) in many schools now.
Boys squirm, young girls daydream...that's developing children folks.
It's much easier for children to sit calmly and quietly in their seats, in the crowded classrooms and ADHD gives a perfect excuse to medicate them. I know medication has helped many, I know it's not the devil...but I also know I felt our daughter was gently forced onto them for a short period. We switched to a less "National Blue Ribbon" focused school, which focused on dyslexia, which she has, and interesting...she's focused and doesn't need medication.
In this novel, the young boy is sent to a tony New York private school thanks to his grandparents funding...as he struggles a bit, his dad has to make the tough decision regarding whether to medicate or not. While he tried to follow his heart, head and research, he felt pushed into a decision, and swayed by physician and educator input.
It takes a tragedy to get this out in the open.
It also has interesting subplots of a depressed mom leaving the home, new relationships, etc.
Stick with it through the first chapter or so...I almost thought is was going another way and turned away from it. Once you get through that....it's a different book, and you'll be happy you stuck with it. It will make you think...whether you've been through this or not. (I ONLY gave it a 4.5 because of that...otherwise it's 5 all the way!) ( )
1 vote suefernandez | Oct 6, 2012 |
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FROM AMAZON.COM:

In a striking debut novel, a single father and his son discover what lies beneath the gilded facade of a 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 prestigious Bradley School.  Everything at Bradley is accelerated—3rd graders read at the 6th grade level, they have labs and facilities to rival most universities, and the chess champions are the bullies.  A single dad and struggling 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 best education money can buy. Or is he? 

When Sea starts getting pressure from the school to put Toby on medication for ADD, something smells fishy, and it isn't the caviar that was served at last week's PTA meeting. Toby's "issues" in school seem, to Sean, to be nothing more than normal behavior for an eight-year-old boy.  But maybe Sean just isn't seeing things clearly, which has been harder and harder to do since Toby's new teacher, Jess, started at Bradley.  And the school has Toby's best interests at heart, right? But what happens when the pressure to not just keep up, but to exceed, takes hold? When things take a tragic turn, Sean realizes that the price of this accelerated life is higher than he could have ever imagined.

8 Pages of B&W Photographs
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"Every afternoon Sean Benning picks up his son, Toby, on the marble steps that lead into the prestigious Bradley School. Everything at Bradley is accelerated-- 3rd graders read at the 6th grade level, they have labs and facilities to rival most universities, and the chess champions are the bullies. A single dad and struggling 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 best education money can buy. Or is he? When Sea starts getting pressure from the school to put Toby on medication for ADD, something smells fishy, and it isn't the caviar that was served at last week's PTA meeting. Toby's "issues" in school seem, to Sean, to be nothing more than normal behavior for an eight-year-old boy. But maybe Sean just isn't seeing things clearly, which has been harder and harder to do since Toby's new teacher, Jess, started at Bradley. And the school has Toby's best interests at heart, right? But what happens when the pressure to not just keep up, but to exceed, takes hold? When things take a tragic turn, Sean realizes that the price of this accelerated life is higher than he could have ever imagined" -- dust jacket flap.… (more)

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