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Gifted

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  706 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Rumi Vasi is 10 years, 2 months, 13 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 6 seconds old. She’s figured that the likelihood of her walking home from school with the boy she likes, John Kemble, is 0.2142, a probability severely reduced by the lacy dress and thick woolen tights her father, and Indian émigré, forces her to wear. Rumi is a gifted child, and her father, Mahesh, believe ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 19th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,377)
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Tenli
I found this book uneven, but the raggedness with which the story unfolds is in some ways a perfect mirror for the way that this child's life gradually goes further and further off course. I appreciated that none of the deeply flawed main characters was portrayed a villain, and, in particular, how well the author captured Rumi's growing bafflement and chaotic inner experience.
Gerund
This debut novel by India-born, Britain-raised writer Nikita Lalwani takes an intriguing premise and plods with it to a disappointing end.

Though unstated in her acknowledgements, the writer was obviously inspired by the true story of Sufiah Yusof, a mathematics prodigy who entered Oxford at the age of 12 in 1997, only to run away three years later, claiming she had been emotionally abused by her ambitious father.

In the book, Rumi is the maths genius daughter of Indian immigrants who is coached b
...more
Emma  Kaufmann
Very moving and emotive account of a young Indian girl in the UK who is hothoused to achieve academic greatness while at the same time cracking up under familial pressure while desperately just wanting to fit in with her peers.
Jennifer
The writing in Gifted is so interesting and subtle. The only disappointment for me was the ending,which I didn't think fit the characters.
Alesa
This was a really haunting story about a girl whose parents are from India, and how they push her to become a child prodigy in math. It asks a lot of really important questions, such as, "When is it appropriate to force a child to explore their talents, and when does this turn into abuse?" "How important is it for a gifted child to have a normal childhood, versus seeing how far their talents will take them?"

It brought up some painful memories from my childhood. And it helped me assess my extreme
...more
Kathryn
I read this book quickly but found myself thinly satisfied at the end. Rumi's character and internal life were flat and undeveloped; the author attempted but fell short of her target. I felt a detachment from all the characters. I felt I was reading descriptions instead of internal experiences of consciousness. In fact, it reminded me of a psychological case study rather than a story.[return][return]For a woman as sheltered as Rumi, the scenario with the Muslim college student rang false. She wa ...more
Chaitra
I could hardly stand this book. It was nominated for the booker prize (the longlist for 2007), and that's why I read the thing. I was expecting something completely different from what the book was actually about. What was it supposed to be? Control-freak parents? Immigrant mentality (whatever that is)? A coming of age story? It didn't satisfactorily resolve anything. Rumi was well developed, but her character goes from being interesting to a total loser and I'm not sure what kind of redemption ...more
Brigdh
A novel about a gifted girl with driven parents. The pressure starts young, when Rumi is identified as "gifted" by her first teacher; her parents' response to this builds up from a suggestion that she join MENSA, into taking her A and O levels early, and eventually attending college (Cambridge, even) at 15. Rumi's life centers around constant studying, to the exclusion of all else, particularly any sort of normal social life or friends. At one point she even drops out of high school entirely to ...more
John
I fail to understand how this book appeared on the Man Booker longlist. I can only assume that the publisher, Viking, pushed it very hard. I just don't think that this book is well enough written to deserve such an accolade. In my opinion, it lacks character delineation and development and the plot has quite a lot of holes. For example, there is a total lack of interaction between the family and Rumi's secondary school; surely someone, somewhere would have raised concerns about the lack of any b ...more
Denise
Gifted is an interesting look at the immigrant experience through the eyes of a young math prodigy. Rumika is the daughter of two Indian emigres, her highly disciplined father and her very religious and traditional mother. Both see Rumi as their prodigy, their one real chance to succeed beyond measure. But Rumi is just a young girl, never allowed to let loose and be normal. As she nears accomplishments even her parents never thought she could reach the tension within her builds. In the end Rumi ...more
Leah
I'd have given this book another star if the main characters were a little more pleasant to be around. I understand that they are motivated by complicated histories and deeply set psychological issues, but really, this could have used a little humor here or there. That said, I really liked this book, it was a great insight into race in 70's/80's UK, the "prodigy" obsession and the ways parents live though their children. I also like that the protagonist finds ways to make decisions in her life a ...more
Ron Charles
The day before school started this year, my wife received an e-mail from a student enrolled in her English class. He wanted to know if he could narrow the margins of his summer homework by a quarter of an inch because his answers were running long.

Such are the joys of teaching in the overachievement capital of the country. As the well-heeled and the big-brained dive back into schoolwork this month, I wish they (and especially their parents) would take a break to read this arresting new novel by
...more
Rachael
Fascinating concept, but totally unfulfilling conclusion! At age five, Rumi's teacher informs her parents that she is unusually gifted in math, and her father sets her on a relentless (perhaps even abusive) pursuit of academic excellence-- to the exclusion of any type of normal childhood. As the parent of an EXTREMELY intelligent toddler, I found Mr. Vasi's choices to be exactly what I would FEAR doing to my son. The book follows Rumi to Oxford at the age of 15, but seems to end rather abruptly ...more
April
This book was on my request list at the library, but I honestly have no idea why I originally put it there.

Regardless, it was a horrible book. Complete rubbish. There seemed to be no real plot or point, besides the main characters genius status in the area of math, and how this impacts her. Which we never really know, because all we ever read about is her studying, kissing a guy onc, then studying some more. To be fair there’s stuff about being a child of indian immigrants in Wales, but it was h
...more
Bookchica
Mar 28, 2008 Bookchica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teens, Young Adults, anyone interested in Ethnic literature
Gifted, Nikita Lalwani's debut novel is an effortless read. Nikita balances the strong immigrant theme and that of a child's angst (at a time when the child is too young to even understand such emotions) very naturally.

Rumi is 5 when she is identified as a gifted mathematician. A label that takes over her life, her thoughts and her family. Mahesh, Rumi's father, channels all his immigrant insecurities into making sure that Rumi is his proof to his adoptive country. The proof that his rigid belie
...more
Christian
Gifted recently received the Desmond Elliot Prize, and the Chair of Judges said:
Gifted is a book of extraordinary range; it is touching, tender, funny and at the same time truly compelling. It covers the issues of duty and family loyalty, and the demands of an extraordinary talent, while holding at its heart the story of a young girl struggling with the agony of first love and her own, very particular, identity. Above all, it has a wonderfully bittersweet charm and for that reason Desmond Elliot
...more
Jennie
Rumi was 5 when her kindergarten teacher walked her home to tell her parents she had a gift for math.

At age 10, she sees a news report about an 8 year old who's just done their math O-level. She could do that. She wants to do that. In fact, she's a little ticked that the 8 year old beat her to it.

Her father grabs a hold of this dream and subjects Rumi to a rigorous study schedule. All math, all the time. Nights? Weekends? Math.

Their goal, their dream, is to attend Oxford by age 15. Mahesh wants
...more
Lamepun
I am biased towards this book, because it resonates with me for two reasons: the first is that Rumi is the daughter of immigrant parents and has to somehow fit between her parents' culture and the culture of 80's UK, and the second, that she is a 'gifted' child suffocating under extreme parental pressure.

For me, this book was a sort of validation of the feelings and problems I had when I was a teenager. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't have loved it so much, but I think it's still a great book
...more
Juhi
This book was about a very talented child named Rumika Vasi. But when puberty strikes Rumi struggles with deciding to folow her dad's dream of her being the youngest girl to go to a university or be with the one she likes. Her mother's longings for her to pick up her heritage and become a wife in India was one of the many problems Rumika faces in this book. Rumi wants to be a normal teen, the one who loves to listen to music, like boys, etc. But Rumi faces many pressures that causes her to do th ...more
Avigail
om Publishers Weekly
In this penetrating coming-of-age debut from London-based Lalwani, 14-year-old Rumika Vasi struggles to fulfill her mathematical gifts and her family's demands on them, while also finding friendship and romance. Rumi, labeled gifted in kindergarten, becomes subject to the grim home teaching of her father, Mahesh, a professor of mathematics at the University of Swansea in Wales. The goal: to be accepted to Oxford by age 14. Shreene, Rumi's mother, resentfully accepts the hous
...more
Alea
The story of young Rumi Vasi, math genius, and her family explores many themes including adolescence, the nature of genius, and an Indian family living in England. At a young age it is discovered the Rumi is gifted in mathematics and her father takes it upon himself to nurture those skills and help her get into Oxford at the age of 15.

Immediately the book “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri and the movie, “Bend it Like Beckham” written and directed by Gurinder Chadha came to mind, both sharing some
...more
YoSafBridg
Though young Rumi Vasi might be a Gifted mathematical genius in every other way she is a normal pre-teen (later teenage) girl, in this first novel by Nikita Lalwani~or at least she longs to be (i've often found this to be true of highly gifted people~either they are longing for normalcy or they are lacking in emotional maturity for lack of it~note i did NOT say ALL gifted people.) Rumi is the first-born child of Indian immigrants in Cardiff, Wales. When she is five she is identified by her teach ...more
Sandhya

With quite an uninspiring title and zero buzz around it, it wasn't likely that I'd have picked this book up anytime soon. But given that it's in this year's Booker long list (whatever that's worth), and considering my growing fondness for Indian literature, I gave it a shot in the dark.

Having read it, I'll say the book scores heavily on originality. But more importantly, it possesses a rare emotional power that makes it both a heartbreaking and deeply affective read on several counts. Also, it'
...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

This is a book that I'd expected to like from the blurb, but I didn't really hit it off with it.

It's all about Rumi, a supposedly "gifted" mathematician, who takes her O and A Levels early and is aiming to get to the University of Oxford at an early age spurred on mostly by her father. I liked Rumi and found her family to be pretty convincing characters but, perhaps because of my own maths degrees, I never found the school background to be very realistic.

I found the end of the book, where - thi

...more
Anne
Nikita Lalwani's debut novel is an enjoyable read about a young Indian girl Rumi, living in Cardiff and who is a maths prodigy and pushed by her very controlling father.

Rumi's father is obsessed - he wants his daughter to reach greatness and is so rigid in his controlling behaviour - which becomes extreme to say the least.

Rumi does love maths and numbers and can make them almost beautiful in the way that she sees the numbers in her head.
Gifted is set in the 1980s and Rumi and her family travel h
...more
Catherine Woodman
I read this book because it was long listed for the Booker Prize, and I have a real fondness for those books--this was an unusual one (Joel would say it should have won it was so unusual--he does not share my fondness :-) RUmi, the main character (we occasionally see the world through the eyes of one of her parents, but mostly we observe them through her or their public selves) is an odd duck--hard to tell how much of it is the math geek thing, and how much of it is that her father keeps her in ...more
Saimah
Written by the UK based Indian author Nikita Lalwani, Gifted explores several themes; the intensified importance of education for Indians - all the more for Indian immigrants, the pressures of adolescence, the confusions creeping in the second generation immigrants where they fight to strike a balance between their social life and their roots.

The book describes the story of Rumika Vasi, a second generation Indian immigrant living in UK with her parents and a younger brother. At the age of 5, Ru
...more
Liz
The broad contours of this book are easy to relate to for those of us who skipped a grade, spent middle school being smart but not popular, or grew up in families where academic achievement is priority numero uno. But there is also a lot in the book that occurs on the margins, and can't be related to as easily. Well-meaning parents in a new cultural setting create an environment that would be repressive for any adolescent, no matter how brilliant, and is eventually proven unsustainable. The book ...more
Kelly Hager
This book is about an Indian family living in Wales. The parents (Mahesh and Shreene) learn that their daughter (Rumi) is basically a genius at math. So math becomes her whole life. After school, she has to go to the library and work on math problems for two hours. She's not allowed to talk to anyone, even if she runs into someone she knows from school--she just has to focus on the math problems. (In case of an emergency, she is allowed to talk to the librarian.)

The book raises really interestin
...more
Jennifer
Dec 02, 2008 Jennifer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has faced first-generation pressures or knows someone who has
Recommended to Jennifer by: Powell's Daily Dose
An interesting novel of parental expectations and immigrant tensions. Rumi Vasi is the daughter of Indian immigrants living in Cardiff and when she is identified at age five as "gifted" in math, her father, Mahesh, does everything possible to help her reach her potential. Though initially Rumi does not chafe at the extensive and isolating study routines imposed on her by her father, the outside world and puberty eventually intrude. Though Rumi successfully sits for her A-levels at age 15 and is ...more
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NIKITA LALWANI was born in Rajasthan and raised in Cardiff. Her first novel, Gifted, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction. Nikita was also shortlisted for the 2008 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. She lives in London.
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“She enjoyed this part, despite the out-and-out ban on fiction, but it was always a pleasure soaked in guilt.” 0 likes
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