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The Gifted School

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,475 ratings  ·  283 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, 450 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.…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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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,475 ratings  ·  283 reviews

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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.

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 thei
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.
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
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.
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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 ...more
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
Allie Larkin
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Gifted School is an immersive, daring read that gives us an intimate look into the community of a high-income town in the Denver suburbs and a culture that views childhood achievement as a mark of parental prestige. Bruce Holsinger writes about the dynamics of jealousy, friendship, and parenthood with great wisdom and shocking kindness. By the end, I was caught in a struggle between racing to see what would happen and wanting to savor every beautiful sentence.
Adrienne McDonnell
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a satirical saga that proves brilliant, playful, and devilishly inventive, author Bruce Holsinger conjures up a handful of families – an array of uniquely described characters, mostly long-time friends. These parents have raised their children in parallel, watching them grow from toddlers into middle schoolers and beyond. When a new school for gifted students is introduced into their community, a fuse is lit. Unhealthy fumes of competition seep into the local air. As parents vie to better the ...more
Gil Harris
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“The Gifted School” starts in the fictional town of Crystal Colorado when four young mothers first meet and start best relationships. Then a decade later when their children are in elementary school, they hear of a gifted magnet school just being built. Now who doesn’t think they have a highly gifted child. With such highly competitive parents each one embellishes their applications and so many secrets come out. Will they still be friends? What a great book! Thank you Penguin Random House for th ...more
Amy lifewiththe_williams
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So this book reads like an intellectual soap opera. There’s plenty of relationship issues, friendship, sibling rivalry.. I have to say that I feel like if you have or have had a child who goes to a gifted school or has tried to get into one, this book will really resonate with you. I have had 3 children in gifted schools, still have one at one, and so this book was right up my alley. When it described the anxiety and stress of waiting to hear if your child was accepted, I KNOW that anxiety. When ...more
Jillian Doherty
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For fans of Emma Straub and Celeste Ng this domestic narrative tackles family / social inequality toward our expectations, feelings, privilege, and persistence across what we think we deserve and how we approach/earn it.

As a new parent myself this story was as fascinating as it was intimidatingly enlightening~

In the beginning we’re introduced to a number of families, bonded by their circumstances, and their desire to see the kids excel.
But with the new magnet school opening up a deep competitio
I had this on my ARC pile for a few weeks and then in the news, real-life parents were caught going to actual fraudulent extremes around college admissions for their children, prompted me to pick this up. And what a good time it was.

What follows is a group of children who have the unfortunate circumstance of having parents who are too personally invested in the social currency of their children being seen as gifted and capturing a coveted seat in a new charter school. There's plenty of poor adu
Denise  Reed
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
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"She wanted to erase, redo, rewind. Fly against the earth's rotation, pull against time."

I don't pick up a lot of contemporary fiction books, but The Gifted School sounded too good to pass up. I buddy read this one with my friend Cody & I loved it so much!

The Gifted School starts off as a slow burn and introduces a lot of characters. I wasn't sure if this was going to work out for me, but it did! I think it would have been helpful to have a character list at the front of the book, but I even
Cathy Beyers
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was really excellent. As a teacher have always been aware that most parents think their children are gifted or exceptional, even though this is seldom really the case. In the last decades this whole idea seems to have gotten out of hand. It is, in my opinion, a sign of the times. Standing out, being noticed has become a condition "sine qua non" to making it in this competitive world. It is not enough anymore to just be OK, so it is not surprising that parents want to see "uniqueness and tal ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I thought this was great. It ticked two impressive boxes for me: a fun, compelling read that pulled me in and wouldn’t let me put it down, and an insightful social commentary that hit quite close to home. (If this book is anything to go by, the suburbs of Northeast Seattle have a lot in common with Boulder, Colorado, which inspired the fictional town of ‘Crystal’ where the book is set.)

The book describes the collective madness that grips a group of friends when the announcement of a new public s
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Never has any author written a book that is so completely timely and thought provoking under the cloak of fiction. Holsinger has succeeded in getting to the core of the competition and controversy that surrounds the concept of giftedness in children.

He focuses in on 5 families dealing with the proposed opening of a school for gifted children. He examines their rivalry, the political manipulation and the levels of stress which corrodes the lives of everyone involved in this fight to gain entry i
Carol M
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A timely novel about the desire of parents to provide the best opportunities to their children without thought for the risk. Set in the cut-throat world of exceptional education, a group of friends find themselves competing (on their children’s behalf) for placement in a new magnet school for the gifted and talented. This riveting account of how gifted children view themselves and the lengths that parents go to procure advantages for their children is uncomfortably fascinating. This page turner ...more
Ann Mah
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A razor-sharp page-turner about four families, a small town, and the exclusive school for gifted children that causes the pressure to build to an explosion of toxic secrets. I'm recommending this book to all my friends this summer.
Rhiannon Johnson
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My review of The Gifted School is featured in the July issue of Midlothian Lifestyle magazine.

Charlottesville resident and University of Virginia professor, Bruce Holsinger, delivers an addictively voyeuristic look at the lengths ambitious parents will go for their children when a new gifted school opens in their community. Four young couples who have happily raised their families together for over a decade while striving to balance careers, parenthood,
Neha Thakkar
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Totally enjoyed this novel for adults... Layered with a twist and an ending that leaves you satisfied but isn’t “perfect”. Pushes you to examine the pressures around you and the pressures you put on yourself. 5/5 @penguinbooks @riverheadbooks @bruceistic ARC from local indie, opinions are my own.
Jean Brown
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars..the least you could say about The Gifted School is it is a timely story. That said it is a great domestic drama about loving our children and wanting everything for them, sometimes in all the wrong ways. It probably says more about me the reader than the book but I had a difficult time keeping the characters straight what parent went with what child and who was married to who. I made a list to refer to when I got confused about who was who. Highly recommended..
Jill Meyer
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm beginning my review by saying that I've seen a couple of mentions of Bruce Holsinger's new novel "The Gifted School" in articles about the college-entry scheme that has snared several Hollywood biggies and other rich parents who wanted to grease their kids' acceptance into college. This book is NOT about that, it's about younger kids in the Denver area who are competing for entry into a public magnet school for "gifted" children. There is a slight case of greasing but that seems to be coinci ...more
Dawn Kieser
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book certainly is timely given all that has been going on in the news these days. It clearly illustrates the competiveness surrounding admission into prestigious schools. The book begins with four families who are good friends. The moms have great relationships with each other, spend lots of time together and share confidences. The kids all know each other and don’t seem to have any major conflicts. Then it is announced that there will be a new school opening in the area. It is a school for ...more
Dorothy Tracey
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway for my exchange of an honest review. This was a deeply developed book that in the first part of the book took its time building up the characters and scenery. The middle section of the book at times felt redundant and there were times that I wasn't sure where the book was going. I thought the last part of the book was superb and completely unexpected. This is not a fast paced book and I think for that reason it will receive a lot of mixed re ...more
Gisselle Diaz
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is it about dysfunctional group of friends with secrets that make for such fascinating stories?

I couldn’t stop reading when I got to the last 150 pages or so!

The story is told in 5 different point of views. I’m very intrigued as to why these 5 characters specifically. It was an interesting choice.

I think this is a timely book that makes you think about what you would do in this situation. I don’t have kids but it’s very thought provoking. Some parts are funny, some cringy, some sad. It’s
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this book. I can’t believe that the author is a medieval specialist with two novels set in those times, because this book is as contemporary as any I’ve ever read. Filled with great characters, excellent plotting, and wisdom on parenting and friendship and smug suburban communities. It’s a hefty book but the changing of character perspective and the short zippy chapters made it whiz by too quickly. Did I mention I loved it?
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
⭐⭐⭐⭐This was a compelling read for me for several reasons: 1) I live in Colorado (and was happy the author had a grasp of how we Coloradans refer to places like “the Springs”); 2) my kids went to school in a highly competitive environment and played club soccer. Oi could I relate! I’m certain many parents (and students) will too!

It was fast-paced, well-written and had well-devolved (if not a little clichéd) characters.

Very enjoyable and one we may soon see in our book clubs.
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Book of The Month: The Gifted School 1 15 Jun 29, 2019 07:48AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions - "The Gifted School" by Bruce W Holsinger 2 14 May 25, 2019 03:03AM  
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