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Book Rec: The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

Updated: Apr 9

“You’ll be a lot less obsessed with what people think of you when you understand how infrequently they do.”

orange book jacket with two women on their phones

As a gifted kid myself (insert joke here), I was immediately pulled into the premise of this novel. While it took a little while to get into the characters and plot, once I was in, it flew, with the ending worth the long haul! The Gifted School captures the relentless ambitions of parents 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.

Discussion Guide

  1. What is your opinion of the couples in the novel? Who do you sympathize with the most? Who is most at fault?

  2. Which child did you relate to the most? In what ways do their families shape their behavior? Who do you think will thrive later?

  3. Do you consider the parents’ behavior justified? How far would you go in a similar situation?

  4. Discuss intelligence vs. giftedness, ambition vs. competition, privilege vs. prestige.

  5. Do you think Tessa is justified in publicly sharing their secrets? What about Zander’s revelation?

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Nov 10, 2023
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