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Interesting, if Somewhat "Light" Coverage of Giftedness
on June 30, 2004
I've noticed the reviews here-- editorial and otherwise-- have expressed rather mixed opinions about this book. And, in a sense, the book's subtitle ("The mixed blessings of extraordinary potential") serves to underscore the somewhat mixed blessings of the book, itself.
Did I find this to be an interesting book? Certainly. Did I seriously "get something out of it?" I'm shrugging a bit, at this second question. The author has certainly succeeded in writing a book many gifted people will relate to, simply because they will recognize themselvbes in the pages. But does the mere ability to make people relate to the text make this a *useful* book? Again, I am shrugging a bit, and I find myself saying "Yes, this was interesting, but I am not really that much wiser, so what exactly *was* the point....?" Ultimately, the "usefulness" of the book will depend on what the reader is looking for-- MY perception is that this book is more "descriptive" than "educational."
But back to the book's contents. It is divided into three sections:
Part One establishes what exactly the author *means* by the term "gifted grownup." On the initial plus side, Streznewski avoids the trap of correlating "giftedness" with numerical IQ scores. Instead she attributes giftedness to (a somewhat arbitrary?) 3-5% of the population who have exceptionally perceptive minds, quick thoughts and extraordinary talents. These people are then subcategorized into Strivers, Superstars and Independents. The rest of the section offers a bit of historical background on "defining giftedness," theories on the brains of gifted individuals, as well as an interesting (and fairly accurate) commentary on the way many gifted adults tend to "hide" their giftedness, due to social/environmental pressures.
Part Two traces the impact of giftedness of the life of a person, from birth to adulthood, covering childhood and parenting (along with other family dynamics), schooling and work. I found myself able to relate especially well to the section describing the difficulties many gifted children have while in school.
Part Three focuses on "Gifted Lives," covering such topics as gifted adults and relationships, special issues facing gifted women, and gifted senior citizens. At the end, Streznewski has added a section of resources and recommended reading.
"Gifted Grownups" did an excellent job of providing a large number of "Oh wow! Me too!" moments-- and thus offers nice validation, especially for those Gifted Adults who may feel like "misfits" in the world. Streznewski uses quotes from the many (over 100) gifted adults she interviewed in her research for the book, and many will be able to recognize themselves in these excerpts. Yes, there are indeed others "like you," out there!
But as I finished reading, it all struck me as being somewhat long on opinion and too focused on the fact "that" gifted adults face certain challenges, while too short on scientific research, explanations and "why" those difficulties occur. And it is also long on somewhat self-congratulatory "feel good" vignettes, but short on real-life solutions, help and applications for those Gifted Adults who find life to be a struggle. Finally, I found Streznewski to step somewhat lightly over the psychological issues facing the gifted.
In short: "Mixed blessings." But given how few books are available on Adult Giftedness, it was definitely worth a read. However, not enough "meat" here to warrant a 5-star rating.
Final thoughts: Recommended (7.5 out of 10 possible bookmarks). If you're a Gifted Adult, it'll offer you moments of recognition. More highly recommended for teachers of the gifted, in that it provides insights they might not otherwise have, and certainly recommended for any member of a family that feels "mystified" by a gifted family member.
Thanks for reading!