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.