cover image Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential

Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential

Marylou Kelly Streznewski, Streznewsk. John Wiley & Sons, $29.95 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-471-29580-8

According to Streznewski, gifted people constitute 3% to 5% of the population, are inquisitive and energetic, have rapid mental processes and a restless drive to enlarge their world. Among the 100 ""gifted grownups,"" ages 18 to 90, interviewed for this unsatisfying study, we meet a Wall Street lawyer, a machinist who writes poetry, a convicted murderer who's working on her autobiography, plus Ph.D.s, office workers, professors, dropouts, scientists and salesmen. Streznewski, who teaches gifted high school students, rather artificially classifies the gifted into three types: ""strivers,"" high-scoring teacher-pleasers who go on to high achievements; ""superstars,"" sociable scholar-athletes or popular personalities on a trajectory to fame and fortune; and ""independents,"" inner-directed, creative intellectuals who challenge authority. Her contention that gifted adults ignore the conventional life stages and follow their own special rhythms, changing jobs and careers in spite of the cost to themselves and loved ones, remains speculative. And her lumping of ""intelligent criminals"" into the sample, however well-intentioned, stretches her fuzzy definition of giftedness to the breaking point. The author, who considers herself, her husband and their four children gifted, tends to use vapid or slippery statements (""Let's face it, if you are a gifted person, you are, on the great highway of life, something like a Porsche... you have a high-performance engine between your ears""). She dispenses advice targeted to gifted women, gifted senior citizens, corporations, schools and parents in an informal, occasionally edifying canvas that's too superficial to serve as a comprehensive handbook. (Apr.)