Reviews for Accelerated

Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
For Sean Benning, the single-dad hero of Hruska's debut novel, it's easier to ignore life's big decisions and go with the flow at his job at a celebrity tabloid (he's really an artist), at son Toby's elite private school (paid for by Sean's in-laws), and while co-parenting with a neurotic ex-wife (he reluctantly has eight-year-old Toby tested for ADD). After much persuasion from the school, Sean puts Toby on Ritalin-like meds. Meanwhile things are looking up. He scores a coveted gallery show, falls for a new teacher, and mingles with the city's wealthy elite. Yet Sean also stumbles on a hornet's nest of lies at the school surrounding the medications. Hruska, publisher of Soho Press, 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. While the plot feels rushed along in many places, and some of Hruska's intended twists fall short, it is satisfying to see Sean ditch the passive routine and fight. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
A debut novel from Hruska, publisher of Soho Press. The author begins with Sean Benning. Sean's wife, Ellie, has walked out. He's raising their only child, 8-year-old Toby. Toby is a student at the famous Bradley School, where everyone who is anyone has matriculated. Once a legacy school for the rich, it has grown into a legacy school for the rich with a few token minorities (Ellie's parents, wealthy alumni, pay Toby's exorbitant tuition). Sean is an artist, not quite starving, with a rent-controlled two-bedroom on NYC's West Side. He has a day job at Buzz, a tabloid devoted to celebrity anatomy. Gino, paparazzo extraordinaire, is on speed dial. At a visit to Bradley, we witness humorless school psychologist Bev Shineman pursing Sean with missionary zeal, preaching the gospel of ADHD. During the same visit, Sean meets and falls hard for Toby's new teacher, Jessica "Jess" Harper. He and Jess discover Calvin, a student from Toby's class, in the stairwell. The convulsing child, apparently the victim of a peanut allergy, is the accelerant that ignites young love. Insecure about his single-parenting skills, Sean succumbs to the relentless Bev, visits an expensive psychiatrist, the diagnosis a fait accompli. What form will the inevitable complications take? Will trouble come from Bev or from the smooth-talking Walt Renard, a graduate of Bradley who remains involved in the school; or from Rick, Sean's loudmouth boss? What will be Sean's exit strategy from his marriage? Will his show at the prestigious Burdot gallery allow him to escape the numbing Buzz? Will Jess return to her fiance? Tune in and see. Though Hruska has a soft touch with characterization, this book does not have sufficient velocity to escape from predictability. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 July #1

Grueling admissions process, exorbitant tuition, and genius classmates. Welcome to Bradley, the Upper East Side school where Sean Benning's eight-year-old son is getting the best education Sean's father-in-law can buy. Sean works a tabloid job and neglects his art to be a good father to Toby, especially since his wife left abruptly at the start of the school year. The more Sean is pressured by the school to put the struggling Toby on medication to control his behavior, the more uneasy he feels about Toby's (and his own) ability to keep up with this group of impossibly wealthy New Yorkers. Out of Sean's concern for his son, anger at his wife's abandonment, admiration of Toby's new teacher, and a couple of traumatic, eye-opening events, the debut author has woven an engagingly believable narrative with just the right amount of snark. VERDICT 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. [Hruska is the publisher of Soho Press--Ed.]--Laurie A. Cavanaugh, Wareham Free Lib., MA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #2

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.)

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