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Accelerated: A Novel
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Accelerated: A Novel

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3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  741 ratings  ·  172 reviews
In a striking debut novel, a single father and his son discover what lies beneath the gilded façade 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 prestigiousBradley School. Everything at Bradley is accelerated—3rd graders read at the 6th grade level
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ebook, 336 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Pegasus Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Lauradownsify
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a highly impairing condition, associated with impulsivity, increased risk of substance abuse, risky sexual behavior,and increased risk of physical injury, just to name a few. By propagating the myth that this diagnosis is given to children who just have a harder time paying attention, this author is undercutting the validity of a condition which has a broad negative impact on the lives of those it affects. This author has no idea what she's talking abo ...more
Jeff
I was looking through the goodreads reviews of Hruska's beautifully written first book and realized that some readers don't see it as a novel (which it is), but rather as the author's Op-Ed on ADHD (which it is not). I can't imagine what I would conclude about Stephen King if I decided his protagonists were reflections of his personal philosophy, as opposed to the fruit of his creativity and hard work.

I loved Accelerated. It's a novel about a father doing battle against a New York private schoo
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Debra Martin
How far would you go to help your child get ahead at school? This is the question being put to Sean Benning. His son Toby is in third grade at the prestigious Bradley School. The outrageous tuition is being paid his wife's parents. When the wife takes off, Sean is left to pick up the pieces and take care of everything to do with Toby's education. When the school starts pressuring Sean to put Toby on ADHD medication, he balks at the idea, but reluctantly he gives in. He mistakenly believes that ...more
Beth Knight
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
The best thing about this book is the author's name. Okay, maybe it's not that bad but it certainly could have been better. The sex is gratuitous, and unbelievable, the plot is so thin that it's see-through, and the ending is pat and trite. In addition, Hruska throws around a lot of factoids about ADHD and the drugs used to treat it as if she has researched it. Unfortunately she does not include sources for her information thus raising questions about their validity. This is just irresponsible. ...more
Orland Outland
Very much the work of a "Lifetime movie" scriptwriter...the "big crisis" occurs exactly 2/3 of the way through. The research is almost literally cut and pasted in, in the form of article titles, etc. The "reveal" of the private school's dark secret is preposterous, as is the ridiculously happy ending in absolutely every way for absolutely every major "good" character, and the bad end for all the "bad" ones that it boggles description. The relationship between the mentally ill mother and the main ...more
Christa
This was just not a good book. I decided to give this a shot because the subject--over-medication of kids at swanky NYC private schools--seemed pretty interesting, but the story definitely didn't live up to it.

What went wrong? The whole thing just wasn't believable. The author seemed to have a hard time nailing down how an 8-year-old kid should act, making the kid seem more like a 5 year old in some spots but with the maturity of a high schooler in others. The grandparents were one-dimensionall
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Joni Daniels
Children as resume: this book explores the pressure on parents from internal needs, social pressure, school, medical and psychologocal porfessional option/advice/influence an the potential consequences when things don't go according to plan. While I'll admit to finding Dad Sean's behavior wanting (he has no strong inner voice, seems baffled that he has grown up to be a father, husband, employee, has sex without thinking much about the consequences beyond the actual act) I also get that this is t ...more
Juliet
I feel so lucky I got to read this book in galley way before all the press about it started--it's fun watching everybody else start discovering something you already know is pretty great.

The story is definitely entertaining and page-turning, but aside from the fact that this book is a great read, the eye-opening factor is very high. The reality of prescription drug usage against the backdrop of an education system that overburdens students, teachers, administrators and parents is something that
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Melissa Lee-tammeus
I am still not sure how I feel about this book. It makes me really want to do my homework on ADHD and ADD. And I question if this was a political and medical war cry disguised as fiction. How true are all the facts spouted in the book and could this really happen? Maybe and probably does already. It definitely makes one question the use of psychotic drugs in children and this ideal of pushing our kids to the limits of academic achievements. Not sure I really cared about the characters, but I cou ...more
Kristin Strong
Interesting premise. Main character well-enough drawn. But VERY poorly edited. Limited vocabulary -- people "whine" too much. Misspellings galore: for example, a song does not have a baseline; it has a BASS LINE. A large group of beings is not a hoard; it is a HORDE. Inconsistencies in narrative: When the main character is upset on the phone, he opens the conversation by "screaming"; later on he is just "almost shouting" at her. It's irritating. And I'm SICK of books where characters meet, screw ...more
Pete Danko
Bronwen Hruska spins a great tale here that -- especially if you are a parent, and even more so if you are a parent of a boy -- will get you thinking long and hard about how hard to push your kids and what to expect from them. Ms. Hruska has a lot of fun skewering the Manhattanites who send their charges to exclusive schools -- and you'll have fun reading about them -- but not too much fun; it's all rather disturbing, with a larger social commentary emerging about a culture increasingly disconne ...more
Randy Briggs


This novel started out as a satire of Upper East Side schools, the students, and their parents. Then about halfway in, it turns into a child-drugging conspiracy. Having worked in schools, I found this premise totally believable . In my schools, there are large numbers of children on ADD meds, and each classroom has at least four personal monitors to assist these children. I enjoyed BOTH parts of the book. The second half was a tense, gripping tale about unraveling a conspiracy. As I said before
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Diane Woodruff
This is a deeply disturbing book. Have taught in the elementary school for 37 years, I have seen the abuse and misuse of Ritalin. There have been a few students who truly needed the drug to be able to function in class. However, there were many more cases of Ritalin being the first plan of attack, when improved parenting skills might have been a better start.

Keeping that rant in mind will help you understand why this book was so disturbing. It takes place in a prestigious school in New York City
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Lauren Hopkins
Booooooooo. I saw this on the "recommended" table of my local bookstore and they usually have pretty great new fiction spread out that might not get the same recognition at a chain bookstore. I've always picked up great books I wouldn't have otherwise found, but this one was a total dud. Why was it on the table, then? Because it takes place in my neighborhood so I'm assuming the author lives there (assuming because she did very little research on most things but the research about 110th and Broa ...more
Washington Centerville Public Library
I recently read a book, Accelerated by Hruska Bronwen the concept intrigued me and then her writing captivated me. The story is a satirical thriller. Bronwen's savvy writing brings contemporary issues into the light. Accelerated explores the pressure schools are under to improve test scores and the length the schools may go to achieve excellent marks. It also illustrates the parents' battle to choose between what they believe is best for their child and what the school states is best. It is hard ...more
Leeann

This book addressed a timely topic, although in the form of fiction and with a twist. The book is about a fancy private school that overuses drugs for ADD/ADHD so that their students are able to be more accelerated than they otherwise might be.

Although sinister in nature, the book comments on what has become acceptable in our high pressure society- to recommend that children, particularly boys, be recommended to take drugs for ADHD, when many of them are simply on a normal developmental track as
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Barbara
The best part of this novel is its accuracy in it’s portrayal of schools convincing parents that their Primary School-aged children need the overly prescribed ADD and ADHD medications. In this novel, it’s the private schools that encourage parents to get their children medicated so that the standardized educational scores are enhanced school-wide. In public schools, it’s the tired, uninspired, generally older teachers who deftly suggest that little Johnny is too wiggly and would benefit from som ...more
Alyssa
Despite being released in tasteful hardcover, this is the same kind of trashy thriller as The Select, with an evil private school instead of an evil med school. It actually reads as a pretty good parody of that type of book, which I can only hope was the author's intent.
Amanda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dawn
Really important topic, private schools pushing parents to get students evaluated for ADHD diagnosis in order to get them on ADD drugs to raise their academic performance but not very well written.
Darren Standar
Pandering garbage. Without the porn, no one would read this.

More anti-psychiatry screed. No imagination.
Leslie Klingensmith
Not especially good writing, but a well told story. Gripping and terrifying.
Jen
I thought this book was a fantastic read with a story that I absolutely could not move away from until I got to the end. Even now, I'm still thinking about it.

I hear a lot of people criticizing the author and supporting the medication. I don't doubt there are kids out there with ADD who benefit from being medicated. And just my two cents...but I think a lot of reviewers on here are woefully ignorant of the things that happen in schools like this in real life, not to mention the actual over-medi
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Kaitlin
I guess this is just a personal pet peeve, but I wanted to take a red pen and cross off all the modifiers in this book. Here are some examples from just three paragraphs at the beginning of the first chapter:

mirrored
longing
glowed like a vision
sudden
overdressed
growled (OK, this is a verb, but come on)
tanned
shiny white
all-white
dark
drunker
tight
designer
fitted
gold
strangely
bare
two scoops of cleavage being offered on the gold tray of her dress

This is followed by a weird sex scene between the protagonis
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Vivek Tejuja
A lot is expected from children these days. Actually, let me change that: Everything is expected from children these days. Even advertising for them is centered on faster, stronger, brighter, and smarter. That is the pre-requisite it seems of having a child and amidst all this I have often wondered how schools have changed. From what they used to be to what they have become. I often think children are not what they used to be – there are a lot of areas to cater to – studies, sports, and the extr ...more
Hannah
In the fast-paced city of New York, the learning of the students at Bradley School is just as fast-paced. Eight-year-olds compose music, write essays, do algebra too advanced for their parents, and dine on salmon and lamb in the cafeteria, which is adjacent to the state-of-the-art computer lab.


The school seeks to educate the next generation of high-powered politicians, scientists, major league athletes, and high society figures. All they can offer is the best that money can buy, and money is s
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Julie G
Virtually plucked from the headlines, Accelerated explores the pressures on schools and students to meet performance standards. And the lengths to which some of them go to achieve the impossible.

Including drugging children who don't quite measure up.

Sean Benning, suddenly a single parent, is struggling to cope with his wife's abandonment, his son's grief, and The Bradley School - an Upper East Side elitist academy where learning is accelerated and performance is everything. Add in a crappy job w
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Xxendlessautumnxx
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gloria Feit
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’
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5828653
I'm the Publisher of Soho Press and love my job. I get to read amazing books and bring the ones I love best into the world. I'm thrilled that this October, Pegasus Books will publish my first novel, ACCELERATED, about a father and son and the over-medication of school-age kids in this country. Before Soho, I was on staff at Entertainment Weekly, and my articles have appeared in The New York Times, ...more
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