** Off The Charts by Ann Hulbert

Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies is a rather depressing book, as it turns out that child prodigies do not always turn out to have remarkably successful lives in the long run, or at least rarely manage to have lives remarkable as their early promises–and invariably face very rough transitions to adulthood. (So enjoy your entirely un-remarkable children!)

The author chose to mostly tell the lives of various prodigies, mostly 20th-century Americans from a variety of disciplines including science, literature, and art (no sports, interestingly), but she has very little commentary about what happens so them, or how parents or society could help them. No surprisingly, it’s very difficult to raise a prodigy, and many parents succumb to the lure of fame, for themselves as well as their child. And when adolescence comes, their children often violently reject them and find themselves adrift since they do not have a peer group to support them, having led such different lives.

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