The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins is a book documentary of high school juniors and seniors whose sole goal in life is to get into an Ivy League college.
While Robbins’ journalism and access to the students’ lives is laudable, her inserts of information and statistics are usually alarmist and unnecessary. The stories of the students as told in their own voices is the readable and important part of this book. From Julie, the “perfect” student, whose hair is falling out due to stress to Sam, the “teacher’s pet” who strives to make true friends while hoping for Julie’s attention, to “AP Frank”, the student with an abusive, bent-on-success mother who nearly gives him a nervous breakdown, the students’ stories are powerful and human.
In our America, the name of a student’s college is seemingly more important than the result of the education given there. Saying “I went to Harvard” holds more weight than the life of a person whose knowledge might have been attained elsewhere.
While I wouldn’t recommend this book to a person not involved with education, there does lie a lesson within it. That lesson is: where are the parents? Very few parents appear in the pages of Overachievers, and when they do appear, it is usually to ask about an SAT score or to talk about college applications. Perhaps Robbins omitted the kind encouragement of these students’ parents, or perhaps these parents are absent from their students’ lives. It is surprising that it took Julie’s hair falling out for her mother to notice her. That lesson is one that applies to everyone.
Disclosure: This book was purchased by the reviewer and no compensation was received for the review. The Amazon links are affiliate links which means if you make a purchase using these links I receive a small percentage from the sale. Thank you for your support!