The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
This book read a lot like Sex and the City meets the elementary school set. It reminded me of the constantly moving character arcs of Dominic Dunne’s People Like Us, only starring “bright future”-obsessed moms in the elitist world of gifted kids who are driven to succeed, only their parents are at the wheel.
In the high-brow world of Crystal, Colorado, children are basically your badge of honor… if they’re gifted. Even one characters’ twin sons–albeit not thought of as overly academic by other characters in the story–are on an elite travel soccer team that competes around the country. Violin on Tuesdays, ballet on Wednesdays, “test tutoring” three times a week… you get the idea.
But when word gets out that there will be a new “gifted school” that will pull only the top one percent from the five public school districts in the area, even the deepest of marriages and friendships will be the ones tested.
While the story was compelling from a “thank god that’s not my reality” standpoint–like watching a car wreck about to unfold involving people you really despise–I got the sense that this was nothing new. I think most of society is now aware of the “upper crust” parents, the top-tier of people who have not only money to burn on private (re: no undesirables allowed) schools and a million extracurricular activities, but also the way they push their children into a future of drugs and suicide for failing to meet their arbitrary goals.
The author could not have intended this, this was the perfect book to read during a global pandemic in which many parents are concerned about their children missing out due to school closing, virtual learning, and social distancing. With every page, I couldn’t help but think, “Thank goodness my children didn’t live like this.”
Where the book does bring in some much-needed originality to a done-to-death but also very realistic plot is in the way the climax comes about. It was absolutely a surprise, and a refreshing one at that.