The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
Set in a fictional, but an all too familiar affluent town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School follows four families through the competitive admissions process for a new charter school for exceptionally gifted children.
Rose, Samantha, Azra, and Lauren have been best friends since their kids were babies. Together they have supported each other through death, divorce, failures, and the challenges of raising children who may or may not be profoundly gifted. But when each family begins the arduous admissions process for this new school, their friendships will be put to the ultimate test.
The dynamics of each family are slowly revealed, unraveled, and then put back together, skillfully told through multiple points of view.
The Gifted School is packed with juicy drama, flawed characters, and precocious kids with obnoxious parents that were at times downright unlikeable. But as a parent myself, I found this book utterly believable as I have seen firsthand the lengths some parents will go to advance their child’s academic career, and the monsters created.
The author did a fantastic job addressing issues of privilege, and while it was uncomfortable to read at times, he exposed the internal narrative prevalent in affluent communities. He also provided contrast with a fifth family – the housekeeper for two of the families – who also had a gifted son competing for a coveted spot in the new school.
The inclusion of this storyline is what turned this from a juicy poolside book to an excellent book for me. I went into the book afraid that it would be yet another story of rich, badly behaving parents who never understood just how privileged they were. I appreciated that he tackled the issue instead of glossing over it for the sake of telling a story for the popular masses.
The multiple points of view style worked well for this book and allowed for rich character development. But with that said, so much development revealed some terrible personality flaws. I didn’t mind that because again, I found it all sadly but completely believable given the recent college admissions scandal.
My one small issue was that the unraveling of some characters was a bit drawn out and slowed the pace of the book a bit. It bogged me down a few times but only enough to cause me to skim some because…
I get it – this guy is falling apart in every way possible.
This book has something for everyone and if you are a parent of a school-aged kid, you will probably inhale this book as I did. If you enjoyed Big Little Lies, Miracle Creek, and multiple points of view plots, you should enjoy The Gifted School.