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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (437 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bronwen Hruska Narrator: Mauro Hantman Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2012 ISBN: 9781482983043
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"Accelerated-A Novel" by Bronwen Hruska was chosen as one of Oprah Magaine's best new books for October 2012. And it's now available as a downloadable or CD audiobook.

When his wife leaves him, Sean Benning finds himself a single father raising his 8 year old son Toby in a culture he is unfamiliar with and unprepared for: the upper class world of a private upper-east side Manhattan school (paid for by his in-laws.)

Toby and his Dad are close, so Sean is baffled when the school suggests that Toby may need medication for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) to help him "concentrate" and improve his school performance. Sean sees Toby as a normal, energetic third-grader, and he's always questioned the hyper-competitive atmosphere of Toby's school and the pressure placed on grade-schoolers to perform like Ivy Leaguers—which is what they all must become.

Fortunately, Sean finds an empathetic ear in Toby's teacher Jess, and when Toby's best friend is discovered unconscious in a school stairwell, together Sean and Jess uncover the unsavory truth behind the prestigious school's formula for success.

"Accelerated" is Hruska's first novel; prior to publishing it she worked as a journalist and screenwriter for twenty years. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and Cosmopolitan, to name just a few.

Hruska has said that her inspiration for the novel came from an experience in which her own son was placed on medication for ADD at his school's request. About a year later, the medication didn't seem to be working, and she questioned the necessity and frequency of the ADD diagnosis.

"It's just too many kids for this to be a disorder. You've got to start to wonder what the barometer for normal is", Hruska has said.

Every afternoon Sean Benning picks up his son, Toby, on the marble steps that lead into the prestigious Bradley School. Everything at Bradley is accelerated—third graders read at the sixth grade level, they have labs and facilities to rival most universities, and the chess champions are the bullies. A single dad and struggling artist, Sean sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the power-soccer-mom cliques and ladies-who-lunch that congregate on the steps every afternoon. But at least Toby is thriving and getting the best education money can buy. Or is he?

When Sean starts getting pressure from the school to put Toby on medication for ADD, something smells fishy, and it isn’t the caviar that was served at last week’s PTA meeting. Toby’s “issues” in school seem, to Sean, to be nothing more than normal behavior for an eight-year-old boy. But maybe Sean just isn’t seeing things clearly, which has been harder and harder to do since Toby’s new teacher, Jess, started at Bradley. And the school has Toby’s best interests at heart, right? But what happens when the pressure to not just keep up, but to exceed, takes hold?

When things take a tragic turn, Sean realizes that the price of this accelerated life is higher than he could have ever imagined.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Riveting…Bronwen Hruska skewers the parenting habits of affluent Manhattanites…As knowing as it is entertaining.” 

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “[Hruska] has woven an engagingly believable narrative with just the right amount of snark. This compelling story of high-pressure early academics in Manhattan will appeal to readers of Tom Perrotta, Jennifer Haigh, and other authors whose novels about families in a particular segment of society illuminate the larger human condition.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “In Hruska’s witty, piercingly relevant debut novel, she pulls back the curtain on the lengths to which people will go to produce successful children…Hruska perfectly captures the prep school milieu that crackles with rumors, money, and the hunger for success, while creating a wholly sympathetic father-son relationship that ranks love over Ivy League potential.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Hruska…knows her territory. She paints a convincing portrait of a regular guy trying to make it in competitive Manhattan, and the scenes between Sean and his love interest are sexy and fun to read.”

    Booklist

  • “What starts off as an entertaining romp through the world of privileged parents and private schools spins itself into a harrowing tale. A deftly, unexpectedly terrifying first novel.”

    A. M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven

  • “A fast-paced, crystal-clear, and funny exploration of a subject that, thanks to Hruska, can finally be openly talked about. A kind of Kramer v. Kramer meets Erin Brokovich in a dark dystopia with baby pharmaceuticals packed in lunch boxes set in the most treacherous world there is: New York City private schools.”

    Jennifer Belle, author of High Maintenance and The Seven Year Bitch

  • Selected for the October 2012 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sam O'Heren | 1/29/2014

    " Kept waiting for this book to go somewhere...anywhere. Horrible cover as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mandy | 1/27/2014

    " This book blew me away. Exciting and fast paced. A great mystery. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nancy | 1/16/2014

    " I gave up half way through. It's an argument against ritalin for children. Not a good novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robyn Renzy | 1/13/2014

    " I liked this book. I thought it was a quick read and I was interested to see what happened next. The ending was a bit predictable but I would recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bobbie Grob | 1/5/2014

    " This was a terrific book about officials at a high-achieving school that pushes their students to use Ritalin and other attention-enhancing drugs. I'd have given it 5 stars but I felt that the ending was too easy. I'd have liked to see more detail, more drama there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 1/5/2014

    " This book was about a private school in Manhattan with an unusual amount of children on ADHD meds. I was wondering if it was loosely based on a real trend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mikevalerie Doucette | 1/3/2014

    " This book is about kids and ADHD and medicating them . It was hard to read because it hits home with some of my family members. Wish they knew all the risk factors about this medication. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 12/25/2013

    " A quick and thought-provoking read. It starts out as a simple story about class and education and single-parenthood, but becomes a thriller about two-thirds of the way in. It's sure to add even more fuel to the fire over ADHD. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Meg | 12/16/2013

    " Interesting premise...bad execution. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily Oberdorfer | 12/2/2013

    " This book was slow building when suddenly, within 3 pages, everything fell into place. Perhaps a little top heavy but overall a good read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mjdrean | 5/22/2013

    " The subject was so intriguing but it fell way, way short. Everything about this book was stilted and sophomoric: the characters, the dialog (especially the dialog) and the plot. It was a slog. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dawn | 3/28/2013

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 2/25/2013

    " Interesting topic on a timely subject. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky | 2/16/2013

    " an interesting, although heavily biased and exaggerated, take on overmedicating children with ADHD/ADD in order to succeed or influence the outcome of prestigious schools. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bobbie | 2/6/2013

    " Quite the cautionary tale. I wish the author had told us a bit about the research done for this book. That would make it even more compelling. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Beverly | 12/30/2012

    " Thin plot that you see from a mile away. Ridiculous sex scenes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy M | 10/23/2012

    " Interesting premise, and the book read smoothly, but the ending tied up just a little too perfectly for me. It definitely makes you think about all the kids being diagnosed with ADD & ADHD these days. "

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About the Author

Bronwen Hruska worked as a journalist and screenwriter for twenty years before becoming a publisher. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Village Voice, and San Francisco Chronicle, among others. She’s sold an original screenplay and original television pilots, even though, alas, none of them were ever produced. She lives in Manhattan with her two sons.

About the Narrator

Mauro Hantman has been a resident actor at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, where he has appeared in over fifty productions since 1999. He's the artistic director of the Providence Improv Fest and a founding member of Improv Jones, an improv troupe formed in 1992.