Ungifted by Gordon Korman is a delightfully funny and heartwarming story. The main character is a middle school student named Donovan Curtis, who is a bit of a trouble maker and is not very academically motivated.
The story begins with Donovan getting himself into some hot water in an event involving a statue, a rolling globe, and a gymnasium. He spends the next several days wondering when his punishment is going to come. However, through a series of coincidences, Donovan instead finds himself being transferred to a school for the gifted.
At his new school, Donovan and his new classmates try to adjust to each other. It quickly becomes obvious that the gifted students, while brilliant, are not very skilled at human interaction. It is equally obvious that Donovan struggles with his studies.
Donovan begins working with the robotics team simply because his homeroom teacher is the coach. Throughout the story, Donovan and his classmates begin to form friendships as they learn from each other. The story is one of tolerance as seen from both sides of the issue. Often in stories like this, the tolerance lesson is one-sided, with the trouble maker learning to accept the "nerds." However, the gifted students have their own prejudices to overcome. It was nice to see that all of the characters learned something from each other.
The story is told from the point of view of several characters, including Donovan's sister, his new teachers, some of his new friends, and, of course, Donovan himself. This gives the book the ability to provide some interesting twists because the reader is not limited to one character's perspective, as is the norm in stories with a first-person narrator.
While I enjoyed the lessons that can be learned from Donovan's story, I was surprised at how many "laugh-out-loud" moments there were. Korman is known for writing books that capture the attention of middle school readers. He didn't fail here. The writing portrays a realistic version of middle school life and is a good mix of heart-warming, hysterical, and downright surprising moments.
I recommend this book for reluctant readers. It draws the reader in from the very first page. With a middle school dance, a Youtube obsessed genius, robots, and a dog, there is something for everyone! I enjoyed the audiobook version, which has a separate narrator for each of the characters.
Elizabeth Woodrum's Blog
Elizabeth Woodrum is the author of the children's book series, The Maisy Files. She is also a full-time teacher and creator of teaching materials that can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. This blog is a mix of teaching and author topics.