The word gifted has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It’s usually more like Don’t try this at home. So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he’s finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special program for gifted and talented students.
It wasn’t exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn’t be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot victory ever, Donovan shows that his gifts might be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed. – Goodreads
So picture it, you’re the ‘trouble’ maker at school. You’re the one who gets caught doing the things no one should be caught doing. You end up doing a major prank that ends up with you getting caught by the Superintendent. Your luck, the Superintendent is overwhelmed and although he writes down your name, he writes it down on the wrong sheet of paper. This means instead of getting a phone call telling you that you’re in trouble, you get a letter in the mail stating that you have been accepted into the Gifted Program in the school district.
This is exactly what happens to Donovan, told not only from his point of view, but various classmates and adults, we see how this shapes his world and the world of those around him. It is clear from the very beginning of the novel (and the school, ASD) that Donovan doesn’t belong in this school, but slowly his classmates actually work to save him, he has made the school better. Because he really is what they need.
Donovan’s experience is off to a rough start at the school when he goes into homeroom and begins to ruin the robot that they are making in robotics. I mean, it didn’t really need that arm did it? Spoiler: it did. However, he becomes a prize for the robotics team. Donovan has played video games long enough to know how to use a joystick and use it well. This of course is a hint to many of his classmates that “hey! Something isn’t ‘normal’ about this kid!” He also saves them from summer school by working with the school on saving the sex education program in unique way.
Donovan getting into the gifted school also brings his family together in a unique way that none of them ever saw coming and as an adult reading this book it was nice to see.
My one major pet peeve of the book was the characterization of the “nerds,” the gifted students. As one of those people who was in gifted classes not all “nerds” are like that, and while it worked well for this story, I would have been interested in seeing how this would have been handled without all of the stereotypes. However, still an enjoyable read.