Subtitled The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, Alexandra Robbins’s The Overachievers follows a selection of students at Whitman, a high school in Maryland, during a year of their lives.
It’s a deeply disconcerting book about children and young adults under intense pressure from their parents, themselves, and their schools, all with the goal of getting into the “right” college and thus collect a golden key to success in life.
Robbins writes with verve and does a great job of bringing the children to life on the page. It’s a very easy book to read.
The tales of children whose parents pressure psychologists to falsely diagnose their children with learning disabilities so they can get more time on exams, rampant cheating, suicides, and above all the sleep deprived lives of the students as they build up their resumes for their college applications are like something out of a nightmare.
If you’re a parent, you should read this book. If you’re at all interested in the state of young people today, you should read this book.
Granted, focusing exclusively on the overachievers leaves out a lot of other high school experiences, but it is chilling.
Related Core Dump reviews:
Posted Tuesday, 08 July, 2008 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.