Daily Archives: January 31, 2013

Book Review: Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska

Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska Title: Accelerated
Author: Bronwen Hruska
Publisher: Pegasus
ISBN: 978-1605983790
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

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 extra-curricular and amidst all this, I wonder what parents and children go through.

“Accelerated” by Bronwen Hruska is a book that deals with the issues mentioned above. The setting is an affluent New York neighbourhood that sports one of the best schools in the city – Bradley School. Everything at the school is accelerated – third graders are learning what sixth graders are meant to and so on and so forth. Sean Benning is a father who wants the best for his child Toby, after his wife and Toby’s mother left them both. Since he cannot afford the school expenses, his in-laws do and he is fine with the arrangement. He is a single dad and a struggling dad. Sean soon starts getting pressured by the school to put Toby on medication for ADD and that is when things begin to turn for the worst, as Sean uncovers the truth about the school and what does it mean to live an accelerated life.

This in brief is the plot of the book. I think this book beautifully depicts the problems all parents face – what will the child’s life be at school? What will he or she go through and what is expected of them? It isn’t easy to read this book and be detached afterwards to what goes on in front of us – maybe not to the same extent, but definitely heading there, at the rate we want our kids to be the best at everything. The writing is razor-sharp and makes a lot of sense with so much irony and black humour. At the heart of it, the book has best intentions and yet reads like a thriller, without boring the reader at all. It was a fast read for me and I would recommend it to parents who want to reconsider their child’s future and what is happening with them at schools and outside home.

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Book Review: How Should A Person Be? By Sheila Heti

How Should A Person Be By Sheila Heti Title: How Should A Person Be?
Author: Sheila Heti
Publisher: Harvill Secker, Random House UK
ISBN: 978-1-846-55754-5
Genre: Literary Fiction, Meta-Novel
Pages: 306
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

How should a person be? Maybe this is one of those questions that cannot be answered that easily. There is always contemplation and then there is giving up on the answer. There are perceptions and opinions and more speculations, but never an answer and maybe there shouldn’t be one. When I read Sheila Heti’s book, “How Should a Person Be?” I immediately knew one thing: She sure is not talking about how a person should be; she is maybe in fact talking about how a person should be given other people and situations that surround us. However, I also believe that each reader has his or her thoughts about the book, so maybe we can agree to disagree at some point.

“How Should A Person Be?” reads like a meta-novel and at the same time it reads like literary fiction. The book draws from life and also evokes life to draw from it in most places. The inlay says that it is a novel from life and yes it is exactly that, which is why I loved it so much. The book is a fictionalized memoir – Sheila is reeling from a divorce, she is a playwright and is unsure of how to live and create. Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist enter her life and life is never the same.

The book is written sometimes as a personal document and sometimes as a novel, which is what makes it so difficult to follow at times and at the same time it makes you ponder so much on the basic questions of love and life. Margaux and Israel are characters that exist so Sheila can make her decisions, so she can learn what she wants to do and unlearn at the same time.

The writing is like that of a painter painting his masterpiece in deft and swift strokes. The good thing according to me in the book is that there aren’t any conclusions and it shouldn’t be the case as well. Everything is not laid out for the reader to see meaning into or interpret. The book is like life – playing itself out without any meanings. There aren’t any answers, though the questions put are way too many – how does one love? Is there a way to live this life? Can one live in a manner better than this? The idea is to keep turning the pages – to read through the words, carefully, and then figuring it out for yourself. I will recommend this book to people who can stomach a story told differently. This book is not for people who are used to the traditional form of storytelling. You might want to give this a shot to read something different.

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