Published by Pegasus Books
Publication date: October 10th 2012
Sean is an artist working as an editor at a celebrity rag while trying to take care of his 8-year-old son, Toby. Several months ago his network executive wife decided she needed “time away” to find herself and abandoned father and son. Sean is left trying to manage his job and the care of his son, which includes negotiating the piranha-like waters of the posh private school where his wife’s parents insisted Toby be enrolled. He’s worried about the money to pay the rent and eat while they’re discussing whether it should be St. Barts or Mustique for Christmas (St. Barts is so last year).
What begins as a lightweight contemporary NYC story about life amongst the rich and their spawn and how to keep them at the top of their class in elite private schools rapidly becomes much more as Sean is pressured to put his son on an ADHD drug because he is distracted and fidgets. Despite his best efforts, the evidence and pressure mount, including a call from his missing ex who surfaces long enough to yell at Sean to do what the school wants, because they know best, but does not care enough to come home.
The United States, land of the free, consumes 85% of the world’s production of Ritalin. In 2010, attention drugs were a 7.42 billion dollar industry.
This is one of those sly books that start out light, with a bit of sex, awkward situations, and all the material that comes from living in NYC amongst people earning 100 times more than you do. Add in parenting and chi-chi schools, ala The Nanny Diaries and Prospect Park West, and you’ve got the premise of Accelerated. The book could skate through on this material and be added to the same pile as the titles just mentioned but when Sean makes the fateful decision to go along with the powers that be and medicate his son despite his misgivings, author Bronwen Hruska makes things get real and bad very fast. In a word, accelerated. Suddenly, the reader is caught up in statistics, drama and conspiracy and like a child on amphetamines they don’t need, the mind races. Hruska’s background as a journalist lends the book and its statistics credibility (and should give any parent pause before medicating their child) while her writing skills keep the action moving.
Accelerated takes material that’s been done before but by adding a real twist makes it new and compelling. How is that generations made it through school and have become solid citizens without being medicated? Yes, the world has changed but 8-year-old boys have always fidgeted and it should not be a sign to pop a pill. This is not a scientific treatise on ADHD, it is fiction and an entertaining read with a plot that also includes enough romance, intrigue, and antics to keep any reader focused—without medication.