Monday, November 5, 2012

Accelerated, by Bronwen Hruska

As Accelerated opens, Sean Benning is suffering through a parent social for the exclusive Manhattan private school his eight-year-old son Toby attends (Toby's tuition is paid by his in-laws). Sean's wife left him four months ago and has barely been heard from since; as a newly single parent, he is picking up numerous tasks related to The Bradley School that his wife previously fulfilled. And he's not enjoying it . . . despite the blow-job he receives in the bathroom at the social. The depiction of the school milieu makes the reader believe Accelerated is a satire of life among the New York elite.

But soon, author Hruska makes a sharp turn toward the serious. The school is pressuring Sean to put Toby on ADD medication--and Sean eventually capitulates. Then Toby collapses in gym class and Sean sets out on a mission--aided by Toby's attractive new teacher with whom Sean conveniently starts a romance--to prove that the school is endangering students by using a variety of nefarious tactics to force their parents to medicate their children. A meeting with a concerned psychiatrist provides the vehicle for a long explanation of the history of ADD/ADHD drugs and their dangers. Powerful alums of Bradley make life difficult for Sean, but he and his new love eventually triumph.

Hruska is well-intentioned, but the book didn't work for me once it turned serious--everything about the Bradley plot is rather obvious, and Sean's sexual exploits and mad runs around Manhattan (he seems to take off running whenever he gets upset or worried) are tedious.  Readers who are vitally interested in the subject of ADD/ADHD drugs may appreciate Accelerated, but I did not.

Favorite passage: None

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