Friday, February 5, 2010

Review: The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, Alexandra Robbins. Hyperion, 2006.

The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven KidsI enjoy reading nonfiction, but often it feels like a bit of a chore. Not like a novel, where I tend to get so engrossed in the fictional alternate-reality that I have a hard time putting the book down. But The Overachievers is one of those rare nonfiction books that manages to pull me in just like a novel. I couldn't put it down, and I neglected my children in order to finish it! Why? Well, the book is heavy on story, which makes it read more like a novel.  It follows several teenagers through a year-and-a-half of their lives and wow, some of the stories get very dramatic at points. I felt like I really got to know these kids, and I couldn't wait to see how their stories turned out.

Also, Alexandra Robbins is an excellent writer. Even the prose interjections that appear between stories periodically are fascinating. She presents statistics, studies, and reports about high school, overachieving, and teenage life in a subtle way so as to not overwhelm the focus of the book: the stories. And personally, I find this topic interesting, which I'm sure contributes to my love of the book as well. It's amazing to me how stressed out these kids are. How they sacrifice everything for the sake of getting into a good college: friendships, sleep, health, even their own dreams and passions. And the strangest thing of all? The pressure doesn't usually even come from their parents. Where does it come from? You'll have to read the book to find out.

I feel lonely for these teenagers, now that I've finished to book. I wonder what they're doing now. Maybe Alexandra Robbins will write a sequel!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like my type of book - thanks for the review! You may also enjoy Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges -- and Find Themselves by David Marcus. It is non-fiction but read like a story as well. Since I didn't go to college in the US, the process to applying for college is an eye-opener for me, and it sounds like having a great guidance counselor definitely helps!