The Gifted, the Talented and Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

A very funny, strong protagonist voice. Real shades of Adrian Mole in the early years. A fantastic read, highly recommended.
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Good fun for fans of Adrian Mole and Joe Cowley, this is the tale of Sam, a decidedly average fifteen year old in a family of talented artistic types. When his father cashes in his successful business and the family move from their ordinary home to a fancy London pad, Sam is horrified to learn he has to attend the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented. Lacking any musical, artistic or creative talent, Sam struggles to fit in. But a school drama production offers a glimmer of hope...

Although slow to start, and portraying Sam's mother in particular as a self-absorbed idiot deaf to her middle child's needs, this developed into a very amusing take on the 'teenage humiliation' genre made famous by Sue Townsend et al. Sam is a likable everyman and his struggles with the cool kids a his new school are relatable and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. A romance in the latter part of the book is fairly obvious, but it's an enjoyable read all the same. 

There's nothing new here but it's good fun and would be a welcome edition to any teen collection, with particular boy appeal.
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Very funny, with many genuine lol moments. Reading this book brought back similar happy memories of reading the Adrian Mole and Georgia Nicolson stories. Every scene with Freya is a joy,  particularly her responses to "How was your day?" 😂
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I loved everything about this book. The characterisation made you feel you actually knew these people. The youthfulness of Freya, the 'not quite and adult but not a child' Ethan and Sam, loveable, tearaway but totally fabulous. Mum, crazy but deep down knowing what she wants...and dad, who is just dad as every dad seems to be. The chapter titles, something that people normally read but don't read, added to the likability of the whole story
I now want to read more of William Sutcliffe's book and he is one I will look for in the future
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Rib-tickling adolescent angst, a school/family/teen romance that hits the mark.

Sutcliffe has his finger on the pubescent pulse, with many titles under his belt that talk to teenagers, about teenagers and LIKE teenagers. This made me smile constantly. As a 30-something, I don't often enjoy the typical coming-of-age story unless it offers something a little different, and this had realism and wit enough to satisfy.

Average teen Sam is happy enough in his South-East England life when his parents announce that Sam's dad has sold his business (not that Sam ever knew what this was) and made enough money to move them to a rather swanky part of London, and send all three children to a school for the Gifted and Talented (something Sam does not see himself fitting into at all).
"'We're rich!' 'How rich?'... 'Comfortable,' said Dad. 'Stinking,' said Mum. 'Not stinking,' said Dad. 'Mildly smelly.' 

With a musically-talented elder brother, and a seven-year-old sister who lives in a "fantasy universe populated exclusively by fairies, unicorns and cats", Sam is feeling decidedly inferior and not-listened-to. And with his Mum giving up work to pursue her creative dreams (and blogging ambitions), Sam seems to be the only unqualified family member dreading the "holistic educational environment that fosters creativity and engagement with the performing arts."

School is as bizarre as Sam had feared, with ambition, pride and egos vying for attention. And as siblings Ethan and Freya fit right in, Sam struggles to find friends and a niche. 

The story not only gives us Sam's story, but we see his family settling into their new lives too, with Ethan hilariously joining a band and his Mum experimenting with 'hobbies' and her parenting blog:
"'Be hungry. It won't kill you. Or make yourself some food. I'm going upstairs to finish my blog.' 'Is this your blog about how to be a good mum?' asked Ethan pointedly."

While there's nothing particularly new about the plot, which even includes a Shakespearian school play, beautiful aloof girl and Sam struggling with competing romantic prospects, the banter and repartee lift it to a higher plane. Sam's smart, his narration is fresh and really, really funny. 

His familial relationships are realistic and also stuffed with amusing scenes. There are also some credible teenage girls that Sam anguishes over. 

Sam's story is highly entertaining, a perfect choice for teenagers after something not too challenging but with smarts. It even includes some Shakespeare. 

Loved this, and so will readers aged 13 and above.

With thanks to Netgalley for the advance reading copy.
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Laugh-out-loud funny and well paced. Sam’s first-person POV is clear and fully realised, and I chuckled along to his teen woes, recalling my own passive aggressive secondary school years.

His mum was quite irritating - Mate, you’ve written a blog about your son without his permission, obviously he’s not okay. But she spurs on much of Sam’s hilarious inner dialogue, and the family's banter is fun to read.

The exposition in particular is strong, and immediately pulls you into Sam’s world.

An issue I do have is with Ethan’s ‘coming out’ (which he admits to lying about later) and the particular conversation:

“I mean I could be [gay] if I put my mind to it.” [..]
“Do you like boys or girls?”
“Girls. Basically. At the moment.”
“So why did you come out as gay?”
“It’s a gay band. You have to have a thing to be different [...] Being gay is the most amazing way to get girls. [...] I swear, it’s incredible. Now I’m gay, girls love me. They’re all over me. Hugging, gossiping, inviting me to their homes, up into their bedrooms, it’s like magic.”
“Yeah, but… if they think you’re gay…”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means whatever you want it to mean! That’s what’s so great!”

So, I read this as an attempt at ‘American Pie humour’ - a boy’s tongue-in-cheek ploy at getting with girls, which in itself isn't great - but the suggestion you can be gay (or bi) if you “put your mind to it” feeds into the argument of “You can choose not to be gay”, which also doesn’t do much for the bi community that has a history of defending its validity. The characters use bisexual, bi-curious, and gay interchangeably, as if they aren’t aware what they mean – but teenagers today are more progressive and knowledgeable than any other generation.

I get that it’s a book meant to entertain, but Sutcliffe’s writing is already so funny that there was no need to go there.

Apart from that, the comedic timing is brilliant, and made me crack up so hard at one point I had to pinch my nose to not wake anyone up in the middle of the night.
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A great read for the younger ya audience. Hilarious and written so well that i flew through this book.
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Hmm. Well. This started off really well. It was funny, interesting and I was hooked about what was going to happen. However, as the book continued, there were just...a lot of problematic elements. An example is Queerbaiting. As a queer person myself, I felt so much excitement when Ethan said he was bisexual and then for that to just be taken away really sucked. The mother was super invasive to her kids' privacy, and never actually apolagized for posting their personal info on a blog. 

Saying that, it was an enjoyable read. I thought Sam was hilarious, and it sucked that nobody (including his own family) took that for granted. He's a wonderful kid. I think other kids like him would really enjoy this but, being a non-binary 22 year old adult, it did have a different affect on me and I am taking that into account.
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I've always loved this author - but this book just didn't work for me.  I think the YA style of writing just doesn't sit well with me.  Unfortunately i had to give up on this book.  Other bookish  friends have raved about it but it is just not for me.
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A fun read about Sam's attempts to fit into a new school. I liked the message that just because a girl is good looking doesn't meant she's worth getting to know. However, I didn't like Sam's behaviour at the end. If a girl doens't want to talk to you, spamming her with messages and chasing her around town is not the way to handle things.

A funny but slightly problematic title.
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Oh thank goodness, a YA book that isn't full of angst and misery!  

This is a kind, good hearted, bouncy treat, our leading man is a little bit troubled by the fact that he has been moved from his old life and friends to a new life in the big city. Sam misses his old life and even his old school, he has been enrolled in a school which is specifically designed to bring out the creative side of it's students, to cater to the artistic and dramatic side of them. Sam's siblings are delighted, they are able to fit right in, Sam is alone and isolated, hopelessly in lust with a gorgeous girl who is not remotely interested in him, nobody plays football and he is isolated and lonely. Not to mention his mum who has also decided to unleash her latent creativity. Goodnatured Sam deals with all this, but it isn't easy. He has to negotiate a lot on the way to his happy ending but the way he gets there is awesome. And along the way of course, Sam is going to find out that he too is as creative as the rest of the family.

I really like William Sutcliffe's books, they are just the right size, they are engaging, his characters speak to each other like people in the real world would, he is a great writer for teens. Highly recommended for teenagers, just the right amount of bad behaviour and risk taking to be safe for even the most conservative.  I really liked this book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this great book.
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Fabulously funny book. I laughed from beginning to end.  Thoroughly enjoyed every page and have highly recommended it to anyone that listens! Go read it, you won't regret it.
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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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