The Gifted School

Riverhead. Jul. 2019. 464p. ISBN 9780525534969. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525534983. F
The four young couples at the center of this engaging novel about bad parenting appear to have it all: successful careers, fine homes, healthy young children, and a safe and friendly neighborhood in Colorado. They even live in a town renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. When a new, highly competitive school for “gifted” children is approved and begins accepting applications, however, things go terribly awry. Competitive instincts rise to the surface, causing friendships to fray and marriages to fall apart. Some parents even resort to shockingly inappropriate behavior to improve the chances of their children being accepted. Holsinger (The Invention of Fire) handles this all with great aplomb, bringing each marriage and family skillfully to life and inviting us to think about what good parenting might actually look like and how we might define “success” for our children. The recent college admissions bribery scandal suggests that these are timely issues, indeed.
VERDICT A thoughtful, engaging examination of a subject torn from the headlines: how parents succumb to a kind of temporary insanity as they jockey for position, status, and prestige

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