Review: William Sutcliffe – The Gifted, the Talented and Me

The Gifted, the Talented and Me
William Sutcliffe

Fifteen-year-old Sam is average. Apologetically average. Which is fine until he moves to London and finds himself attending the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented. Football is banned, and creating poetry and beat-boxing in class is highly recommended. Will Sam ever find his feet, or is he doomed to wander the school grounds alone and average?

I picked up this novel, read the first chapter, and then put it down again. Last night I wanted something light to read so I picked it up again. I find it hard to come up with things to say about it, because it wasn’t anything special. I think that’s its allure though because not everyone can draw brilliantly or be a musical genius. Sam brings to life the average teenage guy (including his dick) and his humour.

I’d never really thought about or even considered the term ‘Queerbaiting’ until recently. Basically it seems to mean that there is a character who comes out as gay, or that seems gay, and then suddenly they turn out to be incredibly straight. For me, that’s what ruined Starworld, but I didn’t find it impacting me very much for this novel.

Something I did find upsetting was Sam’s mother’s blog. She uses her own name on it, and then just blanks out her children’s names with just the first initial. Imagine if the school bully had gotten their hands on that sort of information? It’s not ok for her to be writing that – and after Sam catches her out she should have given it up. I’m not going to make excuses for her behavior, even as I laughed about the Japanese stool.

It’s frankly an average book about an average guy. There’s nothing amazing in this novel that made me want to keep reading it desperately – but maybe that’s going to appeal to some readers. So many YA novels have ‘special’ protagonists with mental health issues, family issues, queer issues, etc etc. So it’ll be nice for normal people to have a humorous novel about them! 3 stars from me (since I can hit all three of those issue boxes!).

Bloomsbury | 17th June 2019 | AU$16.99 | paperback

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