The Gifted, the Talented, and Me

Bloomsbury. Sept. 2020. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781547604203.
Gr 9 Up–When’s Sam’s dad accidentally gets rich, he moves their white family away from middle-class Stevenage to a posh London neighborhood, where Sam and his siblings enroll at the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented. It’s okay for Sam’s siblings: One’s into music, and the other’s an artist. Sam is rudderless. Popular at his old school, now he’s no one—or at least, not until a series of hormonal incidents leads him to audition for the school play, where he gets cast as Caliban in The Tempest. Sam finds himself changing from a nobody into a guy who has the guts to ask out the girl he likes, walk away from the gorgeous girl he thought he liked but really doesn’t, and even deal with the fallout when his mother joins his brother’s grunge band. Sam is a funny, honest, wry narrator and this novel is filled with true laugh-out-loud moments. Everyone in his family grows in different ways, and Sam is finally able to realize that he’s okay with just being normal (as normal as anyone can be at age 15, anyway). Because of frequent conversations between his inner voices Optimistic-, Pessimistic-, and Dick Brain , and numerous references to boners and other dance-in-the-pants moments, the novel is probably better for older teens.
VERDICT Hilarious and heartwarming, this is a great fit for high school libraries.

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