• The Gifted School

  • A Novel
  • By: Bruce Holsinger
  • Narrated by: January LaVoy
  • Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (1,302 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Instant national best seller

"Wise and addictive...The Gifted School is the juiciest novel I've read in ages...a suspenseful, laugh-out-loud page-turner and an incisive inspection of privilege, race and class." (J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Friends and Strangers, in The New York Times)

Smart and juicy, an addictive 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 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.

©2019 Bruce Holsinger (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A page-turning meditation on what it means to be gifted - and how far parents will go to prove it." (NPR) 

"[A] timely and relevant read for the summer." (Oprahmag.com) 

"Holsinger’s sharp observation, knack for dialogue, acerbic social commentary and droll descriptive gifts all add up to a heady brew. As the adults scheme intently and their beleaguered children act out their frustrations, The Gifted School becomes a sharp, skeptical primer on how things stand in 2010s America where everyone is desperate to get their slice of an ever-shrinking economic pie." (The Boston Globe

What listeners say about The Gifted School

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant story AND Narration

I rarely post reviews in Audible; more often on Amazon, but this narrator, January LaVoy, deserves a shout out. I've downloaded well over 1000 titles on Audible in the past ten years, and I've learned that even a really great story can be ruined by subpar narration (when I even notice the narration after a few chapters, that's a problem). Narration should flow with the story. It requires a fine actor to do it well, especially with multiple characters and one narrator doing all the roles. Many women have one only one "man voice" and it doesn't sound like any man I've ever heard. Most narrators can't do children. This narrator does it all seamlessly! I did notice the narration throughout this book (paradoxically after my earlier comment) but only to marvel. The ten or so main characters, men and women, all had distinctive believable voices. The children were done perfectly. Hats off to you January LaVoy!! Really superb job.

Oh yes the story. I loved it. So smart, so richly textured (so many interwoven plot themes but all beautifully blended). A really hard look at today's culture of "tiger parents" and overly stressed children being raised, even when with good intentions, to become the stressed out anxiety-ridden young people we see on college campuses today (I work on one). Also, funny, wise, poignant and ultimately uplifting. Just a brilliant literary experience all around.

32 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

Great start but fizzles midway. Halfway through the book I started to play the audio at 1.5 speed in hopes I’d get through the boring parts. I wondered why I’d lost interest so looked on line for any reviews. The following paragraph written by Lily Meyer in her NPR book review says it all:

“As is, reading The Gifted School is an exercise in frustration, with only the sourest glimmers of schadenfreude. Unlike the real-life college admissions scandal, the cheating on offer here is too familiar to be entertaining. The bad behavior is predictable enough that the novel's suspense leaches away by its midpoint, leaving us with nothing left to do but wonder if four privileged children will get into a magnet school.”

28 people found this helpful

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Oye

The description of the book portrays it as suspenseful (I don't what book that person read), wise (hmm, no), addictive (I had invested so much time I had to finish but it was a CHORE and a suspenseful, addictive book IS NOT a chore), and JUICY? Again, hmmm, I think it may be possible that I listened to a completely different book from the reviewer. None of the characters were likable. At all. And no one makes the decisions they made with the background or experience they had. It was nonsensical. And the big "surprise"?? Made. No. Sense. I do not recommend spending almost 14 hours of your life slogging through.

14 people found this helpful

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loved it! couldn't stop listening :-)

anyone who has kids or teaches or deals with highly competitive people always trying to keep up with the Joneses, this book is for you you're really going to like it

13 people found this helpful

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This Narrator is amazing

While Holsinger writes a very interesting storyline, one that is far too relevant with respect to today’s unscrupulous headlines, January LaVoy is astounding in her narration. She has so many different voices in her repertoire and transitions between them with ultimate fluidity!!
This book was quite a joy

10 people found this helpful

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A little like work.

I spent over 40 years working in the gifted and talented field. This felt like many of the issues I dealt with. The drama at the end was so fun!

9 people found this helpful

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Much Better Than Expected -

Having some experience in the culture, I was expecting a condemning story about cliched families of entitlement and social climbing. I was expecting something similar to Big Little Lies. This is so much more. The relationships are believable and the story lines are possible (well, there are a few stretches). IT was much more suspenseful that I expected. I really enjoyed this book. I hope that when they put this on the screen, they don't fall into the trap of using big name stars.

7 people found this helpful

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  • TS
  • 07-12-19

Depressing

This book (in fact the audio version) was reviewed on NPR very positively. So, I downloaded it. I guess you could call it "entertaining" in a kind of "look at the train-wreck" frame of mind.
The writing was okay. Sadly, the characters were "card-boardish". The men, (apparently all Americans) were depicted as basic "wusses"--not a courageous, dimensional personality trait among them. The women were presented as neurotic, over achieving half-wits, void of simple problem solving skills. The one "ethnic" personality (s) depicted (Hispanic) were revealed as subservient victims which somehow placed them in heroic archetypal roles. The children were sociopathic, whiners. At the end of the novel, I wanted to say: that's America!? What happened to courage, perseverance; rising above challenges and exceptionalism. Occasionally some off beat comment about "the president of the USA" chimed in in a negative manner--not sure what that was about. Couched in the same confusion, the term "progressive" was tossed around...not sure what that was about either. It was just a kind of disappointing, depressive depiction of American privilege and failure. Happily, it is fiction...hopefully, anyway.

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Kept me hooked right from the start! Very reminiscent of big little lies! Characters were amazing, even the Male characters had depth. Can't believe it was written by a man, such a deep insight to a womans mind.

4 people found this helpful

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A glimpse of what parents are going though now

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It made me look back on what I went though with my own children and how different is is now with all of the technology and social media influence. The pressures on both the parents and the children are felt in detail.
The narration was excellent.
One suggestion -- I had trouble keeping track of the characters so I made a chart of the parents and their children. It really helped.

3 people found this helpful