Book Review: The Gifted School

When a new charter school is announced in the fictional, wealthy town of Crystal, CO, parents become obsessed with getting their kids placed in the academy for the most gifted of gifted children. Making it through the admissions process becomes the ultimate badge of honor and it puts the entire family – not just prospective students – to the test. Rose, Samantha, Azra, and Lauren are four moms who desperately want their children tapped by Crystal Academy. They met at an infant swim class 11 years prior and have remained a tight unit ever since. They represent different family structures (unhappily married, happily married, happily divorced, and widowed) but all have the same singular focus of getting their kids admitted to the special school. It’s time for the claws to come out.

As someone who attended a rigorous private school where every parent believed their child to be brilliant, I ate up the drama centered on four families angling to get their children into an elitist school. The parents take their absurd lives so seriously that you have to laugh at them; and author Bruce Holsinger provides a cringe-ibly laughable scenario in just about every scene, particularly anything involving divorced dad, Beck. What Holsinger also does is remind us how race and privilege play into the system of identifying “exceptional” children. Yes folks, this book may be funny, but it’s also insightful (without fully whacking you over the head with it). Sit back, relax, and watch these parents throw themselves into a tailspin.

4 out of 5 stars

Pair with: A beer from Breckenridge Brewery