cover image Accelerated


Bronwen Hruska. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60598-379-0

All Sean Benning wants is for his eight-year-old son, Toby, to be happy. But competition is cutthroat at Manhattan’s fictional Bradley School, and single dad and struggling artist Sean doesn’t fit the Bradley helicopter parent mold. 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. After his wife leaves the family abruptly, Sean becomes Toby’s sole caregiver, while juggling his day job at a celebrity tabloid and his own pursuit of art. Not only is he the odd man out financially (his in-laws pay the tuition) but when the school suggests that Toby, whose behavior is “becoming an issue,” should be medicated, Sean learns that he’s one of the few parents with a child not on drugs. Though Toby seems normally exuberant for his age, Sean is unnerved by the pressure exerted by Bradley and digs deeper into the use of Ritalin with the help of a sympathetic teacher. When tragedy befalls one of Toby’s classmates, Sean becomes even more determined to uncover the reasons behind the medicating of the student body. 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. Agent: Stephanie Abou, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.)