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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 conflicts between achievement and potential talent and privilege Set in the fictional town of Crystal Colorado The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile up with long held secrets and lies Seen through the lens of four families who've been a part of one another's lives since their kids were born over a decade ago the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead but the effect on the group's children sibling relationships marriages and careers as simmering resentments come to a boil and long buried explosive secrets surface and detonate It's a humorous keenly observed timely take on ambitious parents willful kids and the pursuit of prestige no matter the cost

  • Hardcover
  • 452 pages
  • The Gifted School
  • Bruce Holsinger
  • English
  • 12 October 2014
  • 9780525534969

About the Author: Bruce Holsinger

Bruce Holsinger is a fiction writer and scholar of medieval literature who teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville His first two novels A BURNABLE BOOK and THE INVENTION OF FIRE are set in and around medieval London where the poets Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower spent much of their lives His third novel THE GIFTED SCHOOL will appear from Riverhead Books in summer 2019He i

10 thoughts on “The Gifted School

  1. says:

    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 childrenI might have enjoyed it 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 uicksand 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 bookThere were good parts and pieces here and there but as a whole did not win me over

  2. says:

    “Insidious these false versions of superiority and ease we project onto other families how often they blind us to the surer comforts of our own” ― Bruce Holsinger The Gifted SchoolThis book makes the Varsity Blues scandal look almost G ratedThis was one wild readReview to followSo 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 readSo 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 happenFor 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 readingSo my heart went out to all the kidsthe gifted the not so gifted It can be toughreally truly toughwhen you are young not to be affected by all the superficial crapLuckily 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 comprehendI meanif 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 Butwith the Varsity Blues scandal not to mention the every day news cycle of parents behaving badly and doing crazy things I do believe it nowThe 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 straightAnd 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 Rosewho was my least favorite characterI still struggle to understandThis book is like watching a train wreck but it also has much to say and is less light and way 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 wayBut 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 relateEnvy 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 stuffit is all bullshit I think if it changes one person's actions even just one that will have been a great thingSo 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 everyonethe 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

  3. says:

    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 children 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 inadeuate and not goodsmart 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 ⁣35 ⭐️ rounded up

  4. says:

    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 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

  5. says:

    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 apartWhen 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 factorsSamantha 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 infancyWhile Azra's twin sons Charlie and Aidan have focused 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 esue 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 motherParents always want to manage the narrative instead of letting kids write their ownFollowing the perspectives of multiple characters including several of the group's children The Gifted School 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 euity and creating uotas for traditionally under represented populationsI expected the book to be a little 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 themThere's a lot going on in The Gifted School 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 coreHolsinger 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 The Gifted School a bit than I didSee all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoriablogspotcomCheck out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at You can follow me on Instagram at

  6. says:

    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

  7. says:

    i got this ARCi am on the fence about itconvince me proscons impassioned speeches in either camp

  8. says:

    I didn’t find any character in The Gifted School to be very likable though that didn’t stop me from bingeing through this entertaining story of four Colorado moms vying to get their children into a new school next year for gifted children The admissions process was highly competitive and the moms while maybe deep down wanting what’s best for their kids at least to a small extent also want bragging rights within their social circles and some know no bounds They let this new opportunity take over their lives The Gifted School is a dramatic slow burn with some secrets I was curious enough that I wanted to see how things played out for Rose Azra Samantha and Lauren plus their children all living in an affluent Denver suburb I know there are real schools and communities this book resembles but I just didn’t feel very invested in it — It didn’t matter to me who got accepted While a solid read I could see this story making a good TV show or movie as well

  9. says:

    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 schoolTold 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

  10. says:

    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

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