Alexandra Robbins’ The Overachievers is a different type of narrative story that pulls readers in and never lets them go. Robbins spent a year following students and alumni of Walt Whitman High School in the greater D.C. area, and produced this compelling story of nine exceptional students. Each student is unique and talented in his or her own way, showing readers aspects of themselves as well as experiences they have never thought of.
Through her narration, Robbins culminates her separate stories to be a summation of the “overachiever”’s high school experience, and ultimately argues that the American public education system is inherently deeply flawed.
Though every student’s story is different, Robbins masterfully shows their shared crushing anxiety and panic surrounding their education, and through that conveys her goal of showing the “achieverism” values instilled in students from a young age. The lengths to which these students go to in order to succeed and, for many, to simply get into an Ivy League school, are shocking and show readers very clearly that public education is less about learning and more about prestige.
Overall, Alexandra Robbins’ The Overachievers is a compelling call-to-action that helps all readers gain perspective of the values of American society as a whole.