The Gifted, the Talented and Me

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Member Reviews

Sam is the middle child, so already at a disadvantage. Both his siblings have a talent for the arts, Sam has not - another disadvantage. When the family move houses and schools to a school for gifted and talented students, Sam fights the change as he absolutely knows he will not fit in. But as a child, he can't alter the course his parents have decided his life will take. He reluctantly and slowly comes around to changing what he is able to change.
This book has many extremely funny throw away lines. A family discussion around the dinner table had me crying with laughter as so much of it rang true. Even the unlikely scenarios of appearing on stage in speedoes and body paint were credible. 
Young people will relate to at least one of these characters and the family dynamics. I would hope they would sympathise with Mum, who is also trying to 'find herself'. Apart from Dad, a shadowy character who lives life oblivious to what is going on around him - true of many Dads? Sam's younger sister who sails through the book picking up comments she is not supposed to and is happy doing her own thing, the writing focuses on the other three characters all trying to find their identity and path in life. So teenage life in a nutshell.
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Another great story from William Sutcliffe, but this time a break away from Dystopias. A funny family story. 15 year Sam is not gifted and talented and in fact quite ordinary, living in an ordinary town - Stevenage but when his parents get rich , the family up sticks and join the Chelsea tractor set.. Sam and his siblings find themselves at a private school, where the arts are celebrated, behaving and dressing unconventionally are  encouraged and sport is the behind the bike sheds activity. It is a great satirical view of modern life.
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Lovely. A properly funny book. Apart from a complete absence of spelling mistakes, clichés, pleonasms, implausible dialogue and syntax errors, you might think I'd written it myself. 

The set-up is that a family from Stevenage ( how to summarise the banal horror of Stevenage for overseas readers?) gets suddenly rich and moves to a gentrified part of London, where everyone is up their own rectum and writes reviews on Goodreads. Our antihero- an introvert adolescent with a downer on life-is reluctantly enrolled in a private school where he has to mix with exactly the sort of kids he least identifies with. How will he cope?

The narrow-minded, hidebound, conventional critic might argue that the first-person narrative is so cleverly crafted (some phrases made me guffaw with delight, whereas in the case of the other books I've reviewed lately the guffaws have been those of disbelief at the dire prose) that it doesn't fit the supposedly gauche character of the protagonist. However, us post-modernist giants know that to be a sophisticated writerly device to invert fictional identity norms, as any YA reader would instinctively appreciate.

My fancy was thoroughly tickled.
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