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Opal Whiteley’s Riddles (New Yorker)

In our age of anxiety about tiny pageant queens and helicopter parenting, we
have perhaps forgotten that the archetype of the gifted child antedates
reality television and kindergarten-admissions coaching. The sight of a public
aflutter over the talents--and the eventual fall--of a seemingly perfect child
is at least as old as the last century. Consider the story of the once
celebrated, then controversial, and now forgotten Opal Whiteley, whose best-
selling diary predestined her to become something of a riddle. Like most
"child geniuses," her story is strange and complicated, but follows a certain
familiar pattern: that of a gift that threatens to overwhelm.

New Yorker



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