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The Gifted School

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  35,364 ratings  ·  4,242 reviews
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
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Riverhead
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Bruce Holsinger Ha! Great question. I mean, on a personal level? Pretty bad. Not earth-shattering but I hope shocking and, given the theme of the novel, fitting. Than…moreHa! Great question. I mean, on a personal level? Pretty bad. Not earth-shattering but I hope shocking and, given the theme of the novel, fitting. Thanks for asking!(less)

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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  35,364 ratings  ·  4,242 reviews

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Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Bren fall in love with the sea.
“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 School

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 chil
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, adult-reads, botm
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 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
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Larry H
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
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 t ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 17, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: arcstack
i got this ARC.

i am on the fence about it.

convince me - pros/cons, impassioned speeches in either camp.

Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Stephanie Nicholas
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s a real shame. It’s just not about the kids anymore.
A new public magnet school is opening in the idyllic, privileged city of Crystal, Colorado. And like the bag of cash in The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, the temptation is too much for the parents of the local gifted kids who soon lie, cheat, and steal to try to get their little precious perfects to the front of the line.

I had significant problems with The Gifted School. First, it did not help that the acts of these characters are rather
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
In the right hands, this would have been a very interesting, smart story. A woman writer would have written this in a sharper, more emotionally resonant way. It's a good, timely concept but the characters felt very flat to me and by the end I felt like the male characters got strong redemptive arcs while the women (and girls) were just kind of left to flail along. I wanted so much more from this, given all the praise it has received. Oh well. ...more
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ...more
S.W. Hubbard
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a book that, if a woman had written it, would be called "women's fiction" or "chick lit." But since a man wrote it, it's called literary fiction with sharp social commentary. I was drawn to it because it's about education, class, and parent-child relationships, all of which are themes that interest me. However, the families portrayed in this community (a thinly veiled Boulder, CO) are all stereotypes of unpleasant, pushy parents living through their children's accomplishments: the driven ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Megan C.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2019
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
Ron Charles
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
What would you do to ensure your child got a place in a special school for gifted and exceptional learners?

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
Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Katie (katieladyreads)
At least a hundred pages too long and the big reveal was hinted at so much I guessed it way too early. All the characters are the worst and I’m not sure any of them found resolve or learned anything from what happened.
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
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
Basic B's Guide
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.

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 concentra
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ll always love a school drama, and this one didn’t disappoint. The Gifted School is on the surface, easy, middle class social drama. At its heart though, this is a novel about the ugliness of human competitiveness, our willingness to hurt others when faced with our own limits, cruelty in the face of threat, self-preservation, and above all the curation of our external lives. This part of the novel was almost too real. I loved it.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow wow wow! I prefer to start books somewhat blindly so that I go into them without too many predispositions. I had read a few reviews of The Gifted School that peaked my interest, and thought it was rather relevant given the times, but that was the extent of my knowledge. When I saw that it was a BOTM choice for July, I decided to give it a try - so glad I did! I found myself inhaling this book and read the 400+ pages in less than two days. This was one of those stories that I thought about lo ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
At 450 pages, it just felt too long for what I got out of it. The plot moved very slowly. There were so many characters that the book tried to follow, but I never felt like I got to really know any of them. I also didn't get a sense of any of them having much in the way of character development. There was some closure and new revelations at the end, but it wasn't very satisfying.

Even at the end, I still struggled to remember which people were which.

I think the book intends for it to be a bit of
Gilly Macmillan
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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 2019.

He i

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