Expanding thoughtfully on a 1987 New York Times article, Brooks looks at the distinctive needs of privileged children. Although "fast-track" here has shifting meanings—sometimes wealthy families, sometimes busy two-career ones—and much of the data is anecdotal and soft, this is a reasonably organized, user-friendly handbook. Brooks first addresses the concerns each age group faces and then briefly considers special situations: the learning disabled, children with eating disorders, single-parent and at-home-mother variants. Although she readily acknowledges that many developmental issues are similar for all children, she manages to identify others that particularly burden fast-track families, such as how to motivate children who have so much more than enough, who tend to equate self-worth with net worth, or who must measure themselves against highly achieving parents. Some of the suggestions are practical, such as the names of organizations that help young adults to learn to handle inheritances. Other advice is more troublesome: "Treat even the smallest child with the same courtesy you would give an important client or superior." Finally, although she interviewed professionals, Brooks relies to a great extent on impressions of fast-track families, and describes her encounters without much imagination or verve ("it became crystal clear"; "as I was soon to find out"). Others have written more incisively about "the prison of privilege" or the malaise "affluenza" and have warned of the consequences of pressuring children along upwardly mobile paths. This is a more upbeat book for upscale parents, which approaches the problems in nonjudgmental terms and offers a range of specifically accommodating solutions.
Read full book review >