Thursday, October 3, 2002

Review - Gray Matter by Gary Braver

Do intelligent people have better lives? Do more opportunities come their way? Do they get into better schools?

If you could give your child straight white teeth, would you? If your child needed plastic surgery to be accepted on the playground, would you have it done? If your child were falling behind in the classroom, would you do anything to help him become smarter?

Gray Matter is a page-turner by Northeastern University professor Gary Braver that asks these questions. I literally could not put this book down until I was finished.

Rachel Whitman has everything going for her: she's young, beautiful, and wants for nothing. Her husband is CEO of his own company. They've just moved to an upscale Boston suburb with their 6-year-old son Dylan.

Dylan is enrolled in DellKids, a kindergarten on the grounds of the Dells Country Club. Dylan isn't having an easy time. He's not as quick to learn as the other kids and is harassed by the star pupil.

His IQ is below average. Rachel struggles with the fact that her child has a learning disability and, due to past use of a drug that's now known to be dangerous, she may be to blame for his condition.

Not all is bad with Dylan. He may pronounce "Mrs. MacPhearson's Jaguar" as "Mrs. M'Phearson Jagger," but he has a fantastic singing voice and can remember songs as soon as he hears them. Still, Rachel worries that if he's already behind, he'll be picked on more as he gets older and that he won't be able to follow in his father's footsteps.

Then Rachel learns of an "enhancement" procedure that can increase a child's IQ threefold. Should she and her husband put up all their money now so that Dylan will have a chance at a successful life? As Rachel gathers information, she questions whether the procedure will be worth it to Dylan in the long run. The decision has to be made soon; the doctor won't perform the surgery if the child is more than 6 and a half years old.

Gray Matter is a must read for any fan of medical thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, or just damn good writing.

Gary Braver is the pen name for Gary Goshgarian. His first thriller, Elixir, about finding the fountain of youth, was published in 2001. He teaches creative writing and popular culture, and lives with his wife and two sons outside Boston.

Title: Gray Matter
Author: Gary Braver
Publisher: Forge Books
ISBN: 978-0312876135
Pages: 400
Price: $25.95