The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
Penguin Random House: 7/2/19
eBook review copy; 464 pages
The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger is a highly recommended domestic drama about parental ambition for their children.
The prestigious community of Crystal, Colorado, is about to be one of
the communities whose children will be able to attend the areas new
magnet school for gifted children in grades six through 12. Of course admission hinges on receiving a high enough score on the IQ test, along with other requirements. The Gifted School follows
a group of families where the four women, who have been friends for
over a decade, are all about getting their precious gifted children into
the school. The drama ensues as the meddling and competitiveness
commences and friendships begin to fall apart.
This is a great choice for a summer read. It is full of gossipy scandal
and parents behaving pretentiously and badly. The children aren't
perfect either, just FYI. There is plenty of friction between
parents/friends and the children themselves. The one huge thing The Gifted School
has going for it is the timeliness of the plot with the whole college
admissions scandal. The involvement of these parents in their children's
lives, looking at their abilities as a reflection of their own
prestige, is eye-opening and, in some ways, horrific. Being caught up
believing that your child is the best and most gifted of all the gifted
children in all the land is nothing new. We've had these parents among
us for years. Holsinger captures that essence of bad parenting as it
merges with privilege, questionable ethics, and the parent's own
The novel is well crafted and the plot moves along at a good pace,
building up the tension and anticipation until the final climax, which
is explosive. The narrative is told through several alternating
points-of-view, so you can follow everyone's poor choices and become
acquainted with all the characters, including the children. The
different points-of-view result in the characters being all
well-developed, and almost universally unlikable - with one lone,
long-suffering exception. The biggest hurdle to overcome while reading The Gifted School is the occasional sheer repulsiveness of the parents, and their questionable ethics and choices.
My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.