The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 11/13/19-11/19/19

How I Found It: Book of the Month

When this book was first listed, I wasn’t interested. I ultimately didn’t choose it that month, and put it in the Audible backburner. I am trying to be more lenient about what I read/ listen to, so I started using a decision wheel app to pick my next listen/read, and this just happened to be the one that was picked. Surprisingly, I was entranced as I got into this book, and soon it became something I listened to around the house, when I wasn’t actively reading it of course. When it comes to writing a review, I fully recognize how difficult it would be to do this without introducing all the key characters, so here goes nothing!

The Holland-Quinn Family This family is made of Rose, Gareth, and Emma (known as Q). Rose is a neuroscience researcher who is working towards a large grant that could mean working with the National Institute of Health (which for my non-science friends, is a BIG deal). Gareth is an adjunct professor that teaches English. He had a novel that led to poor to mediocre reviews, and much of his earnings are being held until he releases another novel. Rose and Gareth are going through couple’s therapy to try and fix their weakening marriage. Emma Q is an incredibly bright 12 year old who loves to read, specifically young adult novels. She is a natural when it comes to horseback riding, and some may call that talent a “gift”. The focused member of this family is Rose.

The Zellar Family This family is made of Samantha, Kevin, and Emma (known as Z). Samantha was a personal trainer (she may still be a personal trainer, though many of her attributes, along with Kevin are not overtly discussed). Kevin is someone within the financial realm, possibly an investment broker. Emma Z is extremely privileged, and gets many opportunities thanks to her parents’ money and connections. One of these opportunities includes taking a college-level leadership class, which is heavily listed as her “gift”. The focused member of this family is Emma Z.

The Frye Family This family is made of Lauren, Xander, and Tessa. I can’t remember what Lauren does for a living, but I do know that she is a widowed mother of 2. Her daughter, Tessa, is a 16-year-old who is recovering from a drug and alcohol addiction that sent her to rehab. She has a vlog where she posts to her friends from rehab what is going on in her day to day life. Some of those vlogs are highlighted in the book. She has a job at Bloom Again, a consignment store, where she sometimes takes the clothes and modifies them to create something new. These new fashion pieces are considered her “gift”. Xander is a genius little 12-year-old kid. He is interested in chess, and has researched most of the math involved in the game of chess. He is not as verbal as the girls, but his interest in math and science is what considers him “gifted”. The focused member of this family is Xander (and Tessa’s vlog).

The Unsworth-Chaudhury family Firstly, name alone this family oozes class. This family is made of Azra, Beck, Sonja, Charlie, Aiden, and Roy. Azra is the owner of Bloom Again and the mother of twins, Charlie and Aiden. She is on Indian descent and that causes the twins to be made fun of. Beck is the ex-husband of Azra and current husband of Sonja. He is a graphic designer who had a trust fund that has dried up. This has put not only his personal, but also business expenses at risk. Sonja used to be the au pair for the twins, but after an affair, became Beck’s wife. They have a son, Roy together who is a baby throughout the story. Charlie and Aiden are 12-year-old boys with a passion for soccer. As Charlie’s passion dies, Aiden has begun to show exceeding promise on the pitch (which is considered his “gift”). The focused member of this family is Beck.

The Yupanqui family I’m not sure if all of them have the name Yupanqui, but hey, I tried. Silea and her mother Quechua normally clean the Zellar and Holland-Quinn homes. But when Silea is injured, Quechua and Silea’s son, Atik, take over for her. Atik is extremely interested in origami, and he has found ways to create incredible paper creatures, including zoos and architecture. That along with being trilingual is his “gift”. Quechua is extremely suspicious of the new gifted school and is often discouraging.

Okay, so in the city of Crystal, CO, USA, a new public school designed for “gifted students” is opening up, and every child going into the grade 6-12 can take a cognitive proficiency (CogPro) exam to get in. Once the CogPro eliminates the majority of students, each of the selected students will turn in a portfolio to truly assess their “gifts”.

The mothers of these families (Azra, Rose, Samantha, and Lauren) met at a mommy and me swim class when their kids were around 1-year-old. Now they are inseparable, with their children growing up beside each other. But with the new gifted school coming, they are competing with each other for coveted spots, which could just mean admission to the Ivys. Each of the families through the eyes of Rose, Emma Z, Xander, Tessa’s vlog, Beck, and Quechua show their connections as they continue to withstand the pressure of being gifted. But enough pressure, and their bonds could break, with disastrous consequences.

Here’s the thing: A LOT happens. More than a simple post could ever explain. And I don’t want to make a post where I explain all the drama that unfolds without completely explaining the whole story. So, to my fellow readers, pick this one up, you won’t regret it. It is incredibly witty, funny, and important. Look, I’m not a parent (except to a demon child puppy), but I recognize how badly we all want to be number one, and this novel really tells the story of what we are willing to sacrifice to be on top. The commentary on society is insane, and I can’t begin to explain why every single person should read this one. Plus the writing style is so easy to read (but not too easy, so you don’t feel dumb while reading it). I ultimately would give this book a 4.75 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

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