The Gifted School

The Gifted School

Smart and juicy, a compulsively readable novel about a previously happy group of friends and parents that is nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the communityThis deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children in modern America, exploring the...

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Title:The Gifted School
Author:Bruce Holsinger
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Gifted School Reviews

  • Lydia

    LOVED this book. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It reminds me of BIG LITTLE LIES- parents behaving badly in believable, horrifying, yet shockingly relatable ways! So so so good.

  • Renee (itsbooktalk)

    I’m at a loss for how to tell you about this book without telling you too much of what makes it so juicy and enjoyable. I’ll just sum it up as READ. THIS. BOOK!

    Seriously I’ll tell you just a smidge because this delicious, highly entertaining story needs to be experienced without knowing much of the plot. You’ve got 4 families so LOTS of characters but I had no problem getting to know each and keeping them all straight. The author brilliantly layers each character and weaves them into their

    I’m at a loss for how to tell you about this book without telling you too much of what makes it so juicy and enjoyable. I’ll just sum it up as READ. THIS. BOOK! ⠀⠀

    ⠀⠀

    Seriously I’ll tell you just a smidge because this delicious, highly entertaining story needs to be experienced without knowing much of the plot. You’ve got 4 families so LOTS of characters but I had no problem getting to know each and keeping them all straight. The author brilliantly layers each character and weaves them into their families and community so seamlessly that I swear I thought I was reading about real people. In fact, I’ve known these types of moms, dads, and kids and I thought the author could’ve been talking about my community.

    ⠀⠀

    The timeliness of the exploration of privilege, race, class, academics, travel sports, social media etc could not be more relevant and I devoured every single word of this fast paced, dynamic read. I’m floored by the intricacy of the plot and character development which read like a screenplay. I’m just in awe of Bruce Holsinger’s writing ability. I’d be shocked if we didn’t see this as a movie or tv series. If you’re looking for a compulsive summer read look no further than The Gifted School!

  • Stephanie Nicholas

    Exceptional? Oh yes! This, my friends, was just about the best inside look at privileged parenting I've ever read. What a great idea for a book!

    This novel takes place in a fictitious town of Crystal, Colorado. Being a Coloradan myself, it could have easily compared to Boulder, but I digress. There are four families here, all of them have kids, all very close knit. Things begin to heat up when a new school for gifted and talented children grades 6-12 is scheduled to open, and there's a crazy

    Exceptional? Oh yes! This, my friends, was just about the best inside look at privileged parenting I've ever read. What a great idea for a book!

    This novel takes place in a fictitious town of Crystal, Colorado. Being a Coloradan myself, it could have easily compared to Boulder, but I digress. There are four families here, all of them have kids, all very close knit. Things begin to heat up when a new school for gifted and talented children grades 6-12 is scheduled to open, and there's a crazy multi-layered testing and enrollment strategy put in place to secure a coveted spot in the school.

    We see here first hand how parents (some of them) will go to any length to "help" their children get ahead in school, in sports, socially, and in other aspects. I have two teenage boys, and believe me, I've seen it ALL. I just am so impressed how well the author was able to convey "it all" using words.

    I laughed, I rolled my eyes, I gasped out loud, I cried. This was effing brilliant.

  • Chris

    Never has a novel about parents trying to figure out the best school for their kids left me with so much dread and kept me reading until the small hours of the morning. The Gifted School is fantastic: every character was palpably real, their flaws and kindnesses authentic, and the story has the frenetic pace of great thriller. Think Breaking Bad meets an SAT prep guide. I loved it.

  • Bren

    This book makes the Varsity Blues scandal look almost G rated.

    This was one wild read!

    Review to follow.

    So I finished this yesterday. What a wild ride! I enjoyed The Gifted School. It s much deeper then I expected it to be frankly and though it is long, the pages sort of fly. It was a great read.

    So I do not have children. I mention this because I wondered if I'd be able to relate to the subject matter. I do think people who DO have kids will have a better grasp of how such things could happen.

    For

    This book makes the Varsity Blues scandal look almost G rated.

    This was one wild read!

    Review to follow.

    So I finished this yesterday. What a wild ride! I enjoyed The Gifted School. It s much deeper then I expected it to be frankly and though it is long, the pages sort of fly. It was a great read.

    So I do not have children. I mention this because I wondered if I'd be able to relate to the subject matter. I do think people who DO have kids will have a better grasp of how such things could happen.

    For me, I interestingly enough related to the CHILDREN. I grew up with a gifted sibling. It was tough as he (my sibling) is absolutely brilliant. I struggled in school and had a real concentration problem. Sometimes I wondered if I'd graduate. Two things saved me. One was my wonderful mom who went to bat for me. The other was reading.

    So my heart went out to all the kids..the gifted, the not so gifted. It can be tough..really truly tough..when you are young not to be affected by all the superficial crap.

    Luckily I was blessed with parents who would not have given a crap about this "gifted school".

    Sadly for some of the children in this book, they did not have the same experience. Some of these parents were beyond anything I could comprehend.

    I mean..if this book had come out 5 or 10 years ago, I'd most likely not have liked it as much because I wouldn't have believed it could happen. But..with the Varsity Blues scandal not to mention the every day news cycle of parents behaving badly and doing crazy things, I do believe it now.

    The Gifted School is written in a superb way as your feelings keep shifting. There are a huge cast of characters. Each one has a story. If I have one gripe it is that there are so many characters. I wish it had been just a few less narrators. It was tough keeping everyone straight.

    And it is still hard for me to believe so much emphasis is put on this stuff. I think the internet has sort of contributed, where social media abounds and people can sing the praises of their children, their friends and spouses, from behind a computer screen. But people like Rose..who was my least favorite character..I still struggle to understand.

    This book is like watching a train wreck but it also has much to say and is less light and way more human then I ever expected. I often wondered, while reading it, about these people who, in my eyes, had it all and let petty envy get in the way.

    But then I started thinking. Though I myself do not have kids, I have been envious before. Of family, of good friends. I have coveted things I lacked, that were not mine to covet. And I have had people envious of me. I think ALL of us have been, at one point or another, on both sides. So you do not have to be a parent to relate.

    Envy is a lethal thing that can eat away at you. I have seen ordinary sane people make insane choices while in its grip. I could find good in every character in the book in one form or another. I hope, just one person may read this and realize that all the surface stuff..it is all bullshit. I think if it changes one person's actions, even just one, that will have been a great thing.

    So I consider this a great read, one of the best of the year. I almost feel in my bones this will be picked up as a film or a TV series. I recommend it to everyone..the envious, the envied, the happy, the sad. We are ALL gifted in one way or another although it is easy to forget that. And we on GR, are all gifted by the joy and love and magic of books. I wouldn't have it any other way.

  • BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)

    The Gifted School is a slow burn read, centered around friendship and family drama with a few twists to spice things up along the way.

    As an educator for over 20 years I found the book very realistic in its portrayal of the behind the scenes look at the “gifted” label. It’s amazing what some people will do to try to have their child(ren) labeled as gifted when they are simply hard working, good students. So much pressure and impossible to meet expectations are put on these amazing children so

    The Gifted School is a slow burn read, centered around friendship and family drama with a few twists to spice things up along the way. ⁣

    As an educator for over 20 years I found the book very realistic in its portrayal of the behind the scenes look at the “gifted” label. It’s amazing what some people will do to try to have their child(ren) labeled as gifted when they are simply hard working, good students. So much pressure and impossible to meet expectations are put on these amazing children so they are left feeling inadequate and not good/smart enough. It’s sad. ⁣

    What I enjoyed most was the varied POVs we got throughout the story. Once you get used to all the characters, it’s wonderful to have so much insight from the men, women & children. I loved how differently they saw things and processed what was going on. ⁣

    The book is filled with so many characters that will have you shaking your head, thanking the stars above that this is not your family and these are not your friends. Yet, you’ll be drawn in by the drama and find yourself hoping for some redemption for these families. After spending so much time with them, I was definitely feeling invested. ⁣

    This was a buddy read with some Instagram friends & it prompted some great group discussion. I think that definitely helped my overall enjoyment of the book because it was definitely long. ⁣

    3.5 ⭐️ (rounded up)

  • Anna

    Set in fictitious Crystal, Colorado. Rose, Stephanie, Azra and Lauren met when their children were babies, and have remained close friends ever since. When a new charter school for gifted and exceptional middle and high school students is announced, the competition is on, and it gets ugly. As each parent and child evaluate their actions, some are shocked by the lengths they will go to get their children in the school.

    Told through multiple voices, those of the parents and those of the children, a

    Set in fictitious Crystal, Colorado. Rose, Stephanie, Azra and Lauren met when their children were babies, and have remained close friends ever since. When a new charter school for gifted and exceptional middle and high school students is announced, the competition is on, and it gets ugly. As each parent and child evaluate their actions, some are shocked by the lengths they will go to get their children in the school.

    Told through multiple voices, those of the parents and those of the children, a whimsical look at privilege, prestige, ambitions, helicopter parents, competitiveness and pushing children to be over achievers.

    Whitty, satirical and a timely look at parenting in today's society.

  • Larry H

    It's always nice when fiction illuminates the worst in people, isn't it?

    Rose, Samantha, Azra, and Lauren have been best friends for years, in many cases since their kids were infants. The four women and their families have weathered many crises—death, divorce, troubles with their children and their marriages, etc. While there are certainly interesting dynamics among the four of them, there doesn't seem to be anything that can keep them apart.

    When word gets out that their affluent town of

    It's always nice when fiction illuminates the worst in people, isn't it?

    Rose, Samantha, Azra, and Lauren have been best friends for years, in many cases since their kids were infants. The four women and their families have weathered many crises—death, divorce, troubles with their children and their marriages, etc. While there are certainly interesting dynamics among the four of them, there doesn't seem to be anything that can keep them apart.

    When word gets out that their affluent town of Crystal, Colorado is building a school for gifted children, all four women react to the news differently, especially when they learn there will be a limited number of slots available at every grade level, and decisions will be made based both on test scores and other factors.

    Samantha has always believed her daughter, Emma, is practically perfect in every way, so for her it's a given that Emma will be accepted. Rose's daughter Emma, who is best friends with Samantha's daughter, may be smarter, but she isn't as driven or as competitive as the other Emma. But what would happen if one Emma got in and the other didn't? They've been inseparable since infancy.

    While Azra's twin sons, Charlie and Aidan, have focused more on soccer than academics, there's no reason they shouldn't be considered for the school as well, despite the misgivings of Azra's trust-fund yet hippie-esque ex-husband. Since her husband's death, Lauren has focused most of her energy on her son, Xander, who actually is gifted, but at the expense of her older daughter, Tessa, who has dealt with challenge after challenge without the support of her mother.

    "Parents always want to manage the narrative instead of letting kids write their own."

    Following the perspectives of multiple characters, including several of the group's children,

    is a melodramatic yet insightful look at how competition and envy can bring out the worst in adults, laying bare secrets long kept hidden, in some cases pitting spouse against spouse and friend against friend. The book also examines the pros and cons of schools for gifted children, the biases of testing and other admission-related decisions, and the thin line between striving for equity and creating quotas for traditionally under-represented populations.

    I expected the book to be a little more campy and entertaining than it was. While some twists are telegraphed early on, Bruce Holsinger did throw in one twist that upended the characters, and it really didn't feel genuine to me. I thought that Holsinger makes some interesting arguments, but the majority of his characters were so unlikable it was difficult to have any sympathy for them.

    There's a lot going on in

    . There were a lot of storylines to follow, and while I understood the points Holsinger was trying to make, I could have absolutely done without the whole storyline featuring the group's cleaning lady and her family, because it kept dragging the story away from its core.

    Holsinger is a talented writer, and his storytelling definitely kept me reading. Those of you who enjoy stories of people acting horribly to each other to advance their children's best interests (or perhaps their own) might enjoy

    a bit more than I did.

    See all of my reviews at

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    Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at

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    You can follow me on Instagram at

  • Dianne

    Not as biting and sardonic as I would have liked; too much soap opera family drama and not enough black humor. This is a topic ripe for a sharp skewering for someone with a jaundiced view of over-striving helicopter parents and their smug, self-entitled children.

    I might have enjoyed it more if it had been 350 pages instead of 450. It took me two weeks (!) to get through it; it felt like I was wading through quicksand. There were certainly some good, insightful points that were made and Holsinger

    Not as biting and sardonic as I would have liked; too much soap opera family drama and not enough black humor. This is a topic ripe for a sharp skewering for someone with a jaundiced view of over-striving helicopter parents and their smug, self-entitled children.

    I might have enjoyed it more if it had been 350 pages instead of 450. It took me two weeks (!) to get through it; it felt like I was wading through quicksand. There were certainly some good, insightful points that were made and Holsinger has a good eye for telling details of human nature, but it just feels mostly like an opportunity lost. And don’t get me started on the UTTER RIDICULOUSNESS of the pivotal student portfolio project that is the “big gasp” reveal of the book.

    There were good parts and pieces here and there, but as a whole, did not win me over.

  • karen

    i got this ARC.

    i am on the fence about it.

    convince me - pros/cons, impassioned speeches in either camp.

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