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.
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