Pinterest tracking pixel
If you are having difficulty navigating this website please contact us at or 1-833-959-2686.
Oops! The page didn’t load right. Please refresh and try again.
All booksLiterary fictionThe Gifted School
The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
Literary fiction

The Gifted School

by Bruce Holsinger

Quick take

Schadenfreude at its finest. A beautiful train wreck of wealthy parents who implode their oh-so-perfect lives.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

Illustrated icon, Icon_Challenging_Indicator


  • Lengthy read with a slow build
  • Flawed characters

Why I love it

Brianna Goodman
BOTM Editorial Team

Great books are about a lot of things: love, loss, transformation… But you know what else they’re about? Badly behaved parents. We’ve got law-breaking parents, like the aspiring murderers in For Better and Worse. We’ve got dishonest parents, like the ones caught up in the trial portrayed in Miracle Creek. And now we’ve got the parents of The Gifted School, a story of lying, cheating, and often downright dirty parents who will do whatever it takes to make their kids succeed.

You may find these characters unlikable, but know that they act with (mostly) good intentions. The Gifted School follows five families whose lives are upended when the mysterious Crystal Academy opens in their yuppie Colorado town. Despite knowing little about the curriculum—or teachers, or administration—these families vie to send their children to the highly selective school. Soon friends turn against friends, siblings against siblings, and the once-peaceful community becomes a hotbed of lies and cutthroat competition.

This book has the gossipy, nosy-neighbor feel of Desperate Housewives or Big Little Lies, only these parents are keeping secrets about test scores (not murder). It’s a fun summer read about the absurd world of elite grade-school education that also hits at a deeper truth. After all, it was only a few months ago that a host of real-life parents were caught cheating their kids’ ways into college. The Gifted School will make you snicker. You might find it absurd. But you might also be left to wonder: If this were my reality, would I behave any better?

Read less


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.

Read less


Get an early look from the first pages of The Gifted School.

Member thoughts

All (5197)
All (5197)
Love (2200)
Like (2538)
Dislike (459)
5315 ratings
  • 41% Love
  • 48% Like
  • 9% Dislike
  • Menlo Park, CA

    A little creepy that I could picture the characters so easily — a story maybe a little too close to reality? — but I devoured this book. It gripped me from the beginning; I didn’t want to put it down.

  • Dayton, OH

    I really loved this book. It’s highly immersive and you get so invested in the characters. It’s really honest about parenthood and how crazy people can get about their kids. Also, it felt like home.

  • Fredericksburg , VA

    This book really resonated with me. My brother and I are the products of gifted programming, and we both now teach “gifted” students. I have seen first-hand how harmful the label can be. Great read!

  • Mount Prospect, IL

    I didn’t think this book would be what it was!!! Amazing amazing amazing. So happy I got to read this. At first the characters are hard to follow but soon enough you love some and hate others. Perfect

  • Irmo, SC

    This is a very strong portrayal of the difficult politics of “gifted” children and their parents. The twists were well done and (after a slow start) it held my interest through the end of the novel!

  • West Haven , CT

    As a retired teacher, this book struck a nerve. If you identify with any character, and you are a parent, you should reassess how you react to their school life. Pressure to be the best isn’t helpful.

  • Charlotte, NC

    As a teacher and a mom, this book hit home. The town of Crystal was filled with engaging, deceitful and selfish characters, but as a reader, I couldn’t look away. This is a book filled with secrets.

  • Virginia Beach, VA

    Wow. I didn’t see the end of this book coming. In the middle I was annoyed by all the parents and all the privilege in this book. But I’m so glad I finished it to see how far they all come. Awesome!

  • Bellefonte, PA

    The pulse of this book beats among issues of privilege, human connection and the insatiable, reckless American ego. Holsinger’s characters are distinct and his sense of the female psyche is impressive

  • Coraopolis, PA

    I loved this book. Not sure why i connected with it so much, but it’s a beautifully written story with deep chacters & a heart-wrenching plot. Some parts were drawn out but overall an incredible read.

  • Stow, OH

    So time appropriate! In an age where so many think we are judged among our peers...where are children are a reflection of ones own’s so telling! Loved this book! Something in it for all!

  • Shelby Twp, MI

    Loved this book! Holsonger’s writing was wonderful and the story kept me interested throughout all 450 pages! I never felt like it dragged. Written from different viewpoints kept it very interested.

  • Plano, TX

    Such a tangled web. Loved the family stories and the big reveal at the end was not what I saw coming. Makes you realize how easy it is to loose sight of what’s important when it comes to your child.

  • Apex, NC

    This novel is on my list of best books of 2019. Everyone wants their child to be "gifted" and accepted into the new school. It's inundated with both funny and sad moments and I loved reading this book

  • Kettering, OH

    Sometimes I love a good people-behaving-badly drama. I was worried that this book would be a slow read but I burned through it - not even trying to turn away from the wreck it was clearly headed for.

  • Newberry, FL

    I loved this book. The way the privileged parents in this book attempted to out-privilege each other was insane. It was quite the social commentary on what folks will do to advantage their children.

  • San Jose, CA

    As an employee at a school pretty much EXACTLY like this one, I was laughing and nodding the whole way through! I shared it with our staff and we made a game of casting each character from our parents

  • Chicago, IL

    A new public academy for gifted kids is planned to open. Parents go to many lengths to secure a spot for their child. Competition around the testing, acceptance through the eyes of parents & children.

  • Huntsville, AL

    I enjoyed this book - it was a frighteningly accurate but longer version of a lunch I had with my co-room mom last year. Hits modern parenting (for some) on the head and a real take on female friends.

  • Puyallup, WA

    I wasnt so sure about this book at first but once I got started, I was hooked. The real emotion and pressure to succeed is felt throughout this whole story. Loved how the author made it feel relatable

Literary fiction
  • Nothing to See Here
  • Transcendent Kingdom
  • Dominicana
  • What's Mine and Yours
  • Infinite Country
  • The Prophets
  • The Office of Historical Corrections
  • Normal People
  • Betty
  • Salvage the Bones
  • Ask Again, Yes
  • Black Buck
  • The History of Love
  • Luster
  • The Remains of the Day
  • The Secret History
  • The Kite Runner
  • Memorial
  • The Gifted School
  • The Death of Vivek Oji
  • Valentine
  • Leave the World Behind
  • The Knockout Queen
  • Free Food for Millionaires
  • A Burning
  • Writers & Lovers
  • The Mothers
  • The Water Dancer
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing
  • Small Country
  • Red Clocks
  • The Sympathizer
  • Prep
  • Fleishman Is in Trouble
  • Lot
  • An American Marriage
  • The Animators
  • The Leavers
  • Swing Time
  • The Mars Room
  • Exit West
  • The Windfall
  • White Fur
  • Chemistry
  • Woman No. 17
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
  • Eat Only When You're Hungry
  • Rainbirds
  • Unsheltered
  • A Ladder to the Sky
  • Golden Child
  • Life of Pi
  • The Goldfinch
  • Little Women
  • Topics of Conversation
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P
  • & Sons
  • Perfect Little World
  • Lolly Willowes
  • All Grown Up
  • Marlena
  • The Poisonwood Bible