What is a summary of All Loves Excelling by Josiah Bunting III?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All Loves Excelling, by Josiah Bunting III, features high school graduate Amanda Bahringer, one of many teenagers who feels pressured into being accepted at a prestigious college.

When Amanda fails to get accepted into Dartmouth, her overbearing mother's top choice, her mother sends her to St. Matthew's, a private boarding school specializing in helping students get admitted into top colleges. A major point of contention between Amanda and her mother concerns the fact that Amanda would have been happy attending a less important college, but her mother insists on pressuring her to keep pursuing Dartmouth.

As a result of feeling pressured, Amanda does all she can to try attract the college's attention, including training to complete a cross-country 5K race in a competitive time, recording her cello and piano music in the hopes of drawing the school's attention, studying hours every day, and working on improving her SAT scores.

Despite all of her efforts, Amanda fails on an algebra test and, when rebuked by her mother, begins to see herself as unable to succeed. All of the pressures on Amanda to succeed lead her to start overdosing on drugs prescribed to her for anxiety and even taking drugs her mother uses in an effort to combat the need to sleep. Also, a decision to diet to try to improve her running time leads to an eating disorder.

Soon, after Amanda learns her most recent application to Dartmouth has been "wait-listed," she completely breaks under all pressure. She writes her parents a letter, ending with, "You gave me all you could give me, and it wasn't enough" and drowns herself in the river.

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