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The Gifted School

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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 community This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children in modern America, exploring the conflic 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 community This 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.


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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 community This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children in modern America, exploring the conflic 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 community This 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.

30 review for The Gifted School

  1. 4 out of 5

    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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)

    The Gifted School was 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 to be very realistic in its portrayal of the behind the scenes look at the “gifted” label. I have seen parents do many things over the years so nothing in the book shocked me. It’s amazing what some people do to try to have their child(ren) labeled as gifted when they are simply hard working, good students. So mu The Gifted School was 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 to be very realistic in its portrayal of the behind the scenes look at the “gifted” label. I have seen parents do many things over the years so nothing in the book shocked me. It’s amazing what some people 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 just so sad. ⁣ ⁣ What I enjoyed most here 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)

  4. 5 out of 5

    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!

  5. 5 out of 5

    karen

    i got this ARC. i am on the fence about it. convince me - pros/cons, impassioned speeches in either camp.

  6. 4 out of 5

    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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    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 Crystal 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, 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 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 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 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 The Gifted School a bit more than I did. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  8. 5 out of 5

    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 mult 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    This book! I did all I could to escape being an adult in the world and just disappear into this story. I had to find out what was going to happen, and I knew it would not go well (which was as I wanted, truth be told). And how prescient that the ARC I’m reading came out just before the headline grabbing story of parental interference in elite college admissions. This novel is about younger/late elementary age kids and their obsessed parents. Set in a recognizable, but renamed, Boulder. Compulsiv This book! I did all I could to escape being an adult in the world and just disappear into this story. I had to find out what was going to happen, and I knew it would not go well (which was as I wanted, truth be told). And how prescient that the ARC I’m reading came out just before the headline grabbing story of parental interference in elite college admissions. This novel is about younger/late elementary age kids and their obsessed parents. Set in a recognizable, but renamed, Boulder. Compulsively readable (as my family will attest these last few days). And so well written. I loved the various points of view and the occasional “vlog” chapters from the teenager perspective. Bruce Holsinger’s previous novels set in Chaucer’s London were fantastic. I couldn’t wait to see what he would do with something so completely different. Put this one on your TBR for a summer read. Out in July. Highly recommend!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Book of the Month

    "Why I love it" by Brianna Goodman Great books are about a lot of things: love, loss, transformation… But you know what else they’re about? Badly behaved parents. We’ve got law-breaking parents, like the aspiring murderers in For Better and Worse. We’ve got dishonest parents, like the ones caught up in the trial portrayed in Miracle Creek. And now we’ve got the parents of The Gifted School, a story of lying, cheating, and often downright dirty parents who will do whatever it takes to make thei "Why I love it" by Brianna Goodman Great books are about a lot of things: love, loss, transformation… But you know what else they’re about? Badly behaved parents. We’ve got law-breaking parents, like the aspiring murderers in For Better and Worse. We’ve got dishonest parents, like the ones caught up in the trial portrayed in Miracle Creek. And now we’ve got the parents of The Gifted School, a story of lying, cheating, and often downright dirty parents who will do whatever it takes to make their kids succeed. You may find these characters unlikable, but know that they act with (mostly) good intentions. The Gifted School follows five families whose lives are upended when the mysterious Crystal Academy opens in their yuppie Colorado town. Despite knowing little about the curriculum—or teachers, or administration—these families vie to send their children to the highly selective school. Soon friends turn against friends, siblings against siblings, and the once-peaceful community becomes a hotbed of lies and cutthroat competition. This book has the gossipy, nosy-neighbor feel of Desperate Housewives or Big Little Lies, only these parents are keeping secrets about test scores (not murder). It’s a fun summer read about the absurd world of elite grade-school education that also hits at a deeper truth. After all, it was only a few months ago that a host of real-life parents were caught cheating their kids’ ways into college. The Gifted School will make you snicker. You might find it absurd. But you might also be left to wonder: If this were my reality, would I behave any better? Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/the-gifted...

  12. 5 out of 5

    NZLisaM

    This is what happens when parenting becomes a competitive sport? When best friends – Rose, Samantha, Azra, and Lauren – all with children the same age, are informed that a school for the exceptionally gifted is opening in their neighborhood of Crystal, Colorado, they are determined to secure their child/children a placement. But at what cost? The Gifted School has been marketed as Big Little Lies meets the College Admissions Scandal, and even though I understand where the comparison to the latter c This is what happens when parenting becomes a competitive sport? When best friends – Rose, Samantha, Azra, and Lauren – all with children the same age, are informed that a school for the exceptionally gifted is opening in their neighborhood of Crystal, Colorado, they are determined to secure their child/children a placement. But at what cost? The Gifted School has been marketed as Big Little Lies meets the College Admissions Scandal, and even though I understand where the comparison to the latter came from, I think Big Little Lies crossed with Desperate Housewives is a more apt description. Aside from the obvious themes of competition and parental pressure, feelings of failure, judgement, sibling rivalry, aggression, discrimination, rejection, mob and mass mentality, and the spread of social media were prevalent issues. I felt so much empathy towards the poor children in this book. They were under constant and enormous pressure to succeed, some academically, others at sport. No parent should have the right to place such high expectations on their offspring, at the expense of their well-being, social development, and physical and mental health. It was evident that these parents loved their children but they needed a swift wake-up call. The four women at the core of the novel certainly had an inconsistent rollercoaster friendship, where companionship, warmth, and understanding went hand in hand with ruthlessness, jealously and backstabbing. I was appalled by the way they related to one another, and if anyone in my life treated me that way I wouldn't have put up with it, but admit that it worked for these characters. Yes they made some terrible life choices, but when it really counted they had each other backs. Hats off to the author for choosing to show some pretty unique relationships, that weren't as toxic as they first appeared. Instead of selecting the four mothers to narrate, we were given only one, along with a father from another, siblings from the third, and a child from the fourth. This worked well, a wormhole into each of the family's dynamics. The final perspective was that of a young boy from a different socioeconomic group, applying to Crystal Academy, which added another dimension to the novel. Even though it was a provocative read, the promised secrets and lies just weren't scandalous enough for my liking, I craved more bad behaviour and wished the characters had of spiraled more out of control than they did. The ending had its pluses and minuses – I liked it, yet at the same time it was abrupt and inconsistent. I buddy read this with Mandy, and we were both a little disappointed that it wasn't more shocking and dramatic. Overall it held our attention and kept us entertained, therefore we settled on a 4 star rating.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie (Stephanie's Novel Fiction~on hiatus))

    I wanted to love this one, but I had to force myself to get through it. It was spot on with how parent's act at these pretentious schools based on my own experience of having my own kids at a gifted magnet school and teaching for almost twenty years (believe it or not, parents to college-age kids can be worse). Yet this book seemed to drag on forever and ever and the cast of characters was just horrible. I hated them all. I honestly didn't care what happened to them even the kids and finished th I wanted to love this one, but I had to force myself to get through it. It was spot on with how parent's act at these pretentious schools based on my own experience of having my own kids at a gifted magnet school and teaching for almost twenty years (believe it or not, parents to college-age kids can be worse). Yet this book seemed to drag on forever and ever and the cast of characters was just horrible. I hated them all. I honestly didn't care what happened to them even the kids and finished this one just to see what would happen. For this one, the hype didn't live up to my expectations, but that seems to be happening lately. Thank you Edelweiss and Riverhead Books for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Megan C.

    This book is solidly on my 'best of 2019' book list. The novel starts out at a decent clip, but looking back, that was the steady climb up the first big hill of one heck of a roller coaster. GET THIS BOOK NOW, Y'ALL. It comes out tomorrow (big thanks to the publisher for sending me an early copy), so order it, pick it up at your local indie book shop, put it on your library holds list...just get your hands on it. Although this novel is being constantly compared to Big Little Lies (I myself calle This book is solidly on my 'best of 2019' book list. The novel starts out at a decent clip, but looking back, that was the steady climb up the first big hill of one heck of a roller coaster. GET THIS BOOK NOW, Y'ALL. It comes out tomorrow (big thanks to the publisher for sending me an early copy), so order it, pick it up at your local indie book shop, put it on your library holds list...just get your hands on it. Although this novel is being constantly compared to Big Little Lies (I myself called it a mashup between BLL and Little Fires Everywhere in the beginning), this book is better. Yes, I said that. IT'S BETTER. The characters are brilliantly written - flawed, dimensional, incredibly relatable, authentic - and the story is absolutely propulsive. I literally could not rip my eyeballs away from it. Highly, highly recommended. All the stars!!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    What would you do to ensure your child got a place in a special school for gifted and exceptional learners? SUMMARY THE GIFTED SCHOOL is set in Crystal, Colorado, a perfect little fictional town filled with wealthy, high performing families. It’s just been announce that a new public magnet school for exceptional learners will be opening next year, and students in sixth through twelfth grades in the four surrounding counties are welcome to apply. The applicant pool is huge and the selection criter What would you do to ensure your child got a place in a special school for gifted and exceptional learners? SUMMARY THE GIFTED SCHOOL is set in Crystal, Colorado, a perfect little fictional town filled with wealthy, high performing families. It’s just been announce that a new public magnet school for exceptional learners will be opening next year, and students in sixth through twelfth grades in the four surrounding counties are welcome to apply. The applicant pool is huge and the selection criteria focuses on difference, diversity and overall excellence. The admission process starts with an admission test which students must score well on to make the first cut. The second cut is determined by a student project exhibiting the student’s strength. The strength may be anything; athletics, science, math, fashion design, leadership or even origami. Rose, Samantha, Azra and Lauren all met at a baby swim class ten years ago, now they are the best of friends. All four believe their child is gifted and all are are seeking admission to Crystal Academy. These women who have always had each other backs are now competing against each other for a limited number of slots. The gloves have come off! “Insidious, these false versions of superiority and ease we project on to other families. How often they blind us to the surer comforts of our own.” REVIEW THE GIFTED SCHOOL is similar to a story that has been in the news earlier this year. Remember the FBI sting Operation Varsity Blues, where rich and connected parents were cheating on tests or buying their student’s way into colleges. This is more of the same, but at a middle and high school level. Ambitious parents are lying, cheating and bribing to win a prestigious seat for their child in Crystal Academy. The novel addresses issues of class, race, and privilege. The story starts a little slow as we are introduced to a multitude of characters, all the members of the four families in the story. Once the story gets going, however, it grabs you. We all know these families, the soccer dad, the controlling and high achieving mom, the family with the money and contacts, and the single mom just trying to keep it all together. But it’s not just the parents feeling intense pressure. The children, the siblings, the marriages and careers are all affected. The characters were definitely believable and the writing was both entertaining and engaging. Author Bruce Holsinger Is a professor of English language and literature at the University of Virginia. This is his third novel. I listened to this book on Audible and really enjoyed the narration by January LaVoy. Publisher Penguin Random House/ Riverhead Published July 2, 219 Narrated January LaVoy Review www.bluestockingreviews.com

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Four months after that sensational news story about the college admissions scandal comes this hefty novel by Bruce Holsinger about a group of wealthy parents who cheat, lie and bribe to get their kids into an exclusive school. One wants to say that “The Gifted School” is preternaturally timely, but it feels, instead, like a faint imitation: a story dripped from the headlines. But there’s plenty of wry humor in Holsinger’s portrayal of this dysfunction group of friends, especially the moral gymnas Four months after that sensational news story about the college admissions scandal comes this hefty novel by Bruce Holsinger about a group of wealthy parents who cheat, lie and bribe to get their kids into an exclusive school. One wants to say that “The Gifted School” is preternaturally timely, but it feels, instead, like a faint imitation: a story dripped from the headlines. But there’s plenty of wry humor in Holsinger’s portrayal of this dysfunction group of friends, especially the moral gymnastics that liberal parents perform to preserve the purity of their ideals. Everybody loves diversity -- until it comes to school admissions; then accusations of elitism, affirmative action, privilege hoarding and political correctness start flying around like vampire bats. . . . To read the rest of this novel, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White

    The Gifted School was a book with a lot of hype and talk around it. I was really looking forward to it and it was my first buddy read with Lisa and it was lots of fun. This book was a spotlight on the parents and students of a new school opening in town, Crystal Academy. Friends for years start to get incredibly competitive and nasty as they will do anything to get their kids into this school. Their actions have an effect on the kids and the whole thing gets ugly. While I did enjoy this book I wa The Gifted School was a book with a lot of hype and talk around it. I was really looking forward to it and it was my first buddy read with Lisa and it was lots of fun. This book was a spotlight on the parents and students of a new school opening in town, Crystal Academy. Friends for years start to get incredibly competitive and nasty as they will do anything to get their kids into this school. Their actions have an effect on the kids and the whole thing gets ugly. While I did enjoy this book I was hoping for a bit more action. The ending seemed a bit too easy and wrapped up after the actions of the 4 families throughout the book. It does make you think about how far you would go. Lisa and I had some great chats talking about this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    SheLovesThePages

    -Description- In an affluent Colorado town, they are opening up a magnet school for the gifted & talented students in the surrounding 4 counties. Four mothers (four best friends) are all vying for the coveted spots in the school....and all hell breaks loose. -Thoughts- 1. When I first heard of this book, it was described as Big Little Lies with standardized tests...and I was like, “Hell Yes!” To be honest, that description couldn’t be more accurate! 2. The four main families that this book conce -Description- In an affluent Colorado town, they are opening up a magnet school for the gifted & talented students in the surrounding 4 counties. Four mothers (four best friends) are all vying for the coveted spots in the school....and all hell breaks loose. -Thoughts- 1. When I first heard of this book, it was described as Big Little Lies with standardized tests...and I was like, “Hell Yes!” To be honest, that description couldn’t be more accurate! 2. The four main families that this book concentrates on are just perfection....in the worst sense of the word! They are sneaky and conniving and kind and nuts and deceiving and spoiled and pathetic. But what else do you become when desperation and competition are drowning you?? 3. The story is told from various perspectives...which I love in a book. I think the author chose the right characters in this way. A mother, a father, a grandmother, and two children. I liked that it just wasn’t from the four mothers’ viewpoints. 4. The ending was, not necessarily disappointing, but for me slightly unrealistic. A little too “wrapped up in a nice bow” kind of ending. But really, I didn’t mind that. The book was a page turner! And I needed a page turner kind of book. -Rating- ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ -Similar Recommended Reads- Big Little Lies (duh!) Little Fires Everywhere Ask Again, Yes The Husband’s Secret

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mainlinebooker

    Take 4 competitive mothers. Stir in a cutthroat community of affluent individuals. Add a new public school geared toward the gifted with stringent cutoff requirements. What do you get? Combustion! Incredibly prescient, this novel follows 4 mothers and fathers as they savagely vie for spots in a new gifted magnet school for middle and upper schools to be opened in the fall. Parents end up lying, cheating, bribing and destroying their lives and the lives of their children as they fall prey to the Take 4 competitive mothers. Stir in a cutthroat community of affluent individuals. Add a new public school geared toward the gifted with stringent cutoff requirements. What do you get? Combustion! Incredibly prescient, this novel follows 4 mothers and fathers as they savagely vie for spots in a new gifted magnet school for middle and upper schools to be opened in the fall. Parents end up lying, cheating, bribing and destroying their lives and the lives of their children as they fall prey to the belief that this school will bring their children superior advantages in life. It is an examination of parenting, false beliefs, and the lengths that parents will succumb to achieve success for their kids. This book has been labeled as entertaining but I despised the characters so much that I had a hard time mustering any sympathy for them. Indeed that is the power of Holsinger's work, but I could not find anything socially redeemable even with the climax of the story when lessons are learned the hard way. My bet is that it will be really uncomfortable for some parents to read this and recognize a bit of themselves in these characters.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gilly Macmillan

    Addictive, whip-smart, acutely observed and sharply funny, The Gifted School trains its lens on a community where a talented child is a social commodity and asks how far some families might be willing to go in pursuit of status. A delicious read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lea ♞ That_Bookdragon

    4/5 ⭐ "Genius could be a curse as much as a blessing." Before I really dive into this review, I think it's important to precise that I grew up in an environment similar to the one that is presented into this book, but the only difference is that my parents never pushed me to achieve excellence. I had the chance of being given the choice of when and how I wanted to study, so thanks mom and dad for that. However, because I grew up surrounded by kids similar to those into this book and that I sti 4/5 ⭐ "Genius could be a curse as much as a blessing." Before I really dive into this review, I think it's important to precise that I grew up in an environment similar to the one that is presented into this book, but the only difference is that my parents never pushed me to achieve excellence. I had the chance of being given the choice of when and how I wanted to study, so thanks mom and dad for that. However, because I grew up surrounded by kids similar to those into this book and that I still know some people who are exactly like the parents of this story, I could absolutely relate to what was happening and understood the way this story progressed really well. My mom is a teacher and she constantly has to face parents pushing their kids to the extreme just to be better than their neighbors which often ends up with kids being the victims of mental illness such as stress, anxiety and depression, but also with kids who start bullying others because they feel superior to them, partly because of the education they received. That being said, let's see what this is all about. In this book, we follow the lives of a group of friends or are they who live in the fictional city of Crystal, Colorado. Everything is fine in the life of these people until a school for "Gifted Children" is announced to be open. Admissions include crazy sets of IQ tests and plenty of other tests to admit only la crème de la crème of the best students of Crystal and its surroundings. Drama, betrayal and secrets ensue and cause havoc within the group of friends. This book was incredible. It is full of drama but it still feels real. While reading, I kept telling myself "this would make a wonderful TV show". As I already said, I was thrown right back into my high school years it was three years ago, I'm not that old and it was a strange feeling but I felt as if I was the narrator in a way. These people whom Bruce Holsinger talks about, I've met so many of them that I've lost count. Privileged parents obsessed with the idea that their kids need to be better, always and always, and pushing them to the extreme until it all comes tumbling down and who get personally offended whenever things don't go their way (often, it was their kids). It is beyond realistic of the portrayal of those parents ready to do horrible things to get whatever they want. This book was deliciously full of drama, it was a fantastic reading experience. Moreover, even though we follow several different POVs through the story, I never found myself lost trying to figure out who was talking. All the characters were different and the author mastered this aspect of the book. The cast of characters is incredible. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this wild ride of a book. It brings a genuine perspective to overambitious parents with privileges they don't even realize they have. I didn't see many of the twists coming, which was really great. I do believe it is a smart critique of what modern parenting can look and be like in our society. My Bookstagram

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate ☀️ Olson

    (free review copy) 📓 THE GIFTED SCHOOL is all sorts of juicy drama in the world of a privileged town in Colorado, centered around the selection process for a new school for gifted children. This book is smart, witty and so so timely given the recent college admissions scandal. (but am I the only one who wasn’t at ALL surprised when that broke? Like, didn’t all of us know that the rich had their own “path” to educational success?? Or perhaps I’m just middle class, old and jaded and have been teac (free review copy) 📓 THE GIFTED SCHOOL is all sorts of juicy drama in the world of a privileged town in Colorado, centered around the selection process for a new school for gifted children. This book is smart, witty and so so timely given the recent college admissions scandal. (but am I the only one who wasn’t at ALL surprised when that broke? Like, didn’t all of us know that the rich had their own “path” to educational success?? Or perhaps I’m just middle class, old and jaded and have been teaching too long😉) . Back to THE GIFTED SCHOOL! The story centers on 4 women who have been friends since their babies were tiny, and their families. This story skewers the white elite and had me whispering, “DAMN” in appreciation so many times. I didn’t actually like many of the characters at all, really I only liked exactly 2 of the many, but I don’t think they were written to be likeable. I may not have liked them, but I sure did recognize them as representative of SO many parents today. . Highly recommend to readers looking for literary drama, especially parents and those who work in the educational system. Class, race, and privilege are major themes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Basic B's Guide

    This was not a winner for me, womp-womp. I think this is actually a case where I would have enjoyed this more as a television series or movie more than a 400+ page book. I’m not sure I’ve ever made that claim before. Guess there is a first time for everything. . The characters were very hard to keep straight. Like, why in the world do we need two girls named Emma? 🙄 I spent most of my time reminding myself who belonged to who and what connection they each had to one another. This was not enjoyable This was not a winner for me, womp-womp. I think this is actually a case where I would have enjoyed this more as a television series or movie more than a 400+ page book. I’m not sure I’ve ever made that claim before. Guess there is a first time for everything. . The characters were very hard to keep straight. Like, why in the world do we need two girls named Emma? 🙄 I spent most of my time reminding myself who belonged to who and what connection they each had to one another. This was not enjoyable to me at all and distracted me from the plot. I also felt like this could have been wrapped up in 300 pages. It was unnecessarily drawn out and for a conclusion I felt was forced and not all that exciting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey

    Five wonderful, did not want it to end, amazing stars!! Four women who have been friends for over a decade encounter new challenges when a cutting edge school for gifted children opens in their hometown. The new school creates a divide among the friends and in their children and brings out the worst in human nature. As relationships are tested and truths exposed, the women have to decide what is really important to them and if they truly have their children’s best interests at heart. I loved the Five wonderful, did not want it to end, amazing stars!! Four women who have been friends for over a decade encounter new challenges when a cutting edge school for gifted children opens in their hometown. The new school creates a divide among the friends and in their children and brings out the worst in human nature. As relationships are tested and truths exposed, the women have to decide what is really important to them and if they truly have their children’s best interests at heart. I loved the writing, format and pace of the novel, characters, and relationships. The novel was filled with lots of drama, real life issues, some laughs, and a wonderful story of friendship. This is an absolute must read and one of my favorite books of 2019!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    When a new, elite school for gifted kids opens in the area, the relationship between best friends is affected, tested, and strained beyond belief by their competitiveness. How far will they go to ensure their children are admitted to the prestigious school? I listened to half of this audiobook before giving up. However, since so many were raving about it, I decided to try it again. But, nope, I still didn't love it nor connect with any of the very unlikable characters. I personally found all of t When a new, elite school for gifted kids opens in the area, the relationship between best friends is affected, tested, and strained beyond belief by their competitiveness. How far will they go to ensure their children are admitted to the prestigious school? I listened to half of this audiobook before giving up. However, since so many were raving about it, I decided to try it again. But, nope, I still didn't love it nor connect with any of the very unlikable characters. I personally found all of the drama between these so-called friends boring and trivial. The soccer scenes, however, were SPOT ON lol. I hoped the ending at least would be satisfying, but instead, the characters (with one exception) suffered no real consequences from their deplorable actions and didn't seem to learn a lesson from their evil and immoral ways. I very much enjoyed the drama and deception in Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (4 stars) but, for some reason, this book was not for me (most likely because the women in Lies stuck together instead of turning on each other like rabid dogs). Location: Crystal, Colorado (fictional town since the real Crystal is a ghost town) Audiobook

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cody | codysbookshelf

    Familial/friend drama with fully formed characters? COUNT ME IN. The small, liberal, upper-middle class town of Chrystal, Colorado is getting a new, exclusive “gifted” school — and every parent wants his or her child to get in. Some kids are intellectually gifted, others aren’t. Anyone who grew up in public schools (or private school, Hell, but I was a public school kid . . .) probably dealt with a gifted program of some sort. Either you were in it, or you heard about it. This story revolves aro Familial/friend drama with fully formed characters? COUNT ME IN. The small, liberal, upper-middle class town of Chrystal, Colorado is getting a new, exclusive “gifted” school — and every parent wants his or her child to get in. Some kids are intellectually gifted, others aren’t. Anyone who grew up in public schools (or private school, Hell, but I was a public school kid . . .) probably dealt with a gifted program of some sort. Either you were in it, or you heard about it. This story revolves around four families, all connected by the friendships between the four matriarchs. These are suburban families, with normal fears and hopes and circumstances. They care for each other, but they sometimes don’t hesitate to stab one another in the back. That’s what humans do — and the author does a splendid job of nailing these characters’ humanities. They didn’t always do what I wanted of them, but that’s okay. That’s life. Do not go into this book expecting a fast-paced thriller. This isn’t that. What it is is an examination of suburbia and human relationships, the truth all brought to life because of the forthcoming gifted school. The first hundred pages or so are slow — not boring, just slow! — but once all the wheels got rolling I couldn’t put the book down. I am thoroughly impressed with this one: a last-minute Book of the Month pick I didn’t think I’d actually like. In fact, this book ignited in me a new love for reading, as I’ve been in sort of a slump for a while. My highest recommendation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie (never.ending.reading.list)

    The Gifted School was a unique, intriguing read. It follows a group of families in an affluent Colorado neighborhood who are trying to get their children into a new “gifted school” in town. While the premise sounds a bit boring, a lot of the book was.. I don’t know, I just couldn’t really get into this one until about 70% through. But the ending was pretty excited and I did fly through it. The characters were all so unlikable. I think that was the point, but it seemed like an easy way out. Also, The Gifted School was a unique, intriguing read. It follows a group of families in an affluent Colorado neighborhood who are trying to get their children into a new “gifted school” in town. While the premise sounds a bit boring, a lot of the book was.. I don’t know, I just couldn’t really get into this one until about 70% through. But the ending was pretty excited and I did fly through it. The characters were all so unlikable. I think that was the point, but it seemed like an easy way out. Also, there was some real bad dialogue. This author did not know how to write dialogue for teenagers, kids, and some of the women. Characters: 2 Setting: 4 1/2 Plot: 3 Ending: 3 1/2 Overall: 3 1/2 stars!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brei

    I just couldn't get into this book. I didn't find any of the characters likable and that is something I look for in a good book. I want the characters to redeem themselves. I just felt like this was a bunch of privileged people walking around trying to outsmart the system. Longer review to come

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Compulsively readable but mannnnnn did I despise all of the characters. They all seemed like such miserable people. Ugh. 2.5 stars rounded up.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amitaf0208

    This is normally not my genre. However, I really enjoyed it. Very entertaining read. Couldn’t put it down - loved the multiple POVs!

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