Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin has got to be one of the most powerful novels I have read in a long time. This novel had me considering societal expectations of normal and what it means when an individual does not fit into those expectations. Never has a book provoked me in a way that Golden Boy did. Throughout the novel I was heartbroken and angry, I was confused and anxious. Also, in this book I have never said
Golden Boy follows the story of Max an intersex individual who has been identifying as a boy for the majority of his life and for the most part is a well adjusted kid. However, something terrible happens to Max and I warn you, it is terrible and it will sicken you. The things that Max has to deal with and overcome are something that anyone need to face. Golden Boy was a much heavier read that I had originally expected.
Golden Boy is told from a number of different POVs: Max, Daniel (Max's nine year old brother), Karen (Max's mum), Sylvie (Max's love), Archie (Max's doctor) and a bit toward the end Steve (Max's dad). I am one who loves reading stories from all kinds of perspectives. This was a really interesting aspect of the novel and one that I think was really important. There were a few times one of the characters would make a decision and I would not understand why, seeing the situation from their point of view would help clarify things, or make them even more confusing.
Tarttelin approaches the subject of being intersex and what it means very well. She doesn't glaze over things and she doesn't over glamorize the situation. It is all very authentic, and what every one is feeling is also very believable. At one point I thought that perhaps the story took an extreme turn, but as I read further I realized why the author chose to do what she did. It all makes sense in the end.
Max's mother had to have been one of my least liked characters. Even less than Hunter. She made a lot of decisions with the idea that she was doing what was best for her family. Sometimes these decisions were so misguided it was hard to understand her reasoning, even when it was explained. I said a lot of nasty things when it came to her. I just could not think like she did. It was maddening.
Overall, Golden Boy was a phenomenal novel. That deals with a topic that isn't really talked about or acknowledged. Tarttelin takes on the task in a tasteful and thought provoking fashion. The writing is beautiful and real, and the contents of this novel will stay with you long after you've read the last page.
Happy Reading Everyone!
PS- for those in the GTA be sure to Abigail is going to be in town- info below