Susan B. (Rutledge, MO)
Moving, maybe too heartbreaking?
I found this book well-written and thought-provoking, but also painfully, often needlessly, heart-wrenching. If you are interested in gender issues you should certainly check it out, but know that the story is driven by intense drama resulting from secret-keeping; secrets I think shouldn't have been kept. The issues involved are compelling enough that had the characters told the truth about themselves and the situations they found themselves in, how they dealt with it would still have made a fantastic story, but one far less agonizing. I assume the author wanted the reader to understand how intense and difficult these issues can be, but the secrecy element severely diluted the impact for me. Despite this, I think it is quite worth reading.
Gail G. (Northbrook, Illinois)
Golden Boy BY Abigail Trattein
Terrific story with mostly well developed characters. I became so emotionally involved with the main character, Max Walker , and all that he went through, I couldn't read through to the end of the book, I had to go to the book's end to see if he came through all he experienced ok. It would be very difficult to place myself in Karen's (mother) and Steve's (father) position and make the decisions that had to be made for Max. Their reactions were totally understandable but not necessarily correct.The brother's behavior was normal in the considering that his brother was "perfect" and could do no wrong so he thought his parents loved him less than they did Max
The story was unique in its content and very gut wrenching for the reader. The character I found difficult to believe was Sylvie, the girlfriend,She was too wise for her age but very good for Max in his troubled life. The bad boy Hunter's behavior was expressed so realistically it almost made me sick to my stomach to read it.
I would recommend this book to teens as well as older readers and book clubs.
Jill M. (Petaluma, CA)
Something tells me Golden Boy is going to be widely read, debated and discussed. I needed to take some time to think about the impact and meaning of the book for a while after finishing it. It came to me that no one in the story was "wrong" in what (s)he did in dealing with the challenging intersex anatomy of Max--except of course Hunter, his former best friend. What a great book for discussion at book clubs. This is a tremendous work for such a young author. The wordiness bogged down for me in the second half. I'd love to know if this was the case for others.
Amy F. (West Roxbury, MA)
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Max's story of an intersex teenager takes all the teenage angst and magnifies the issues. I thought the story was amazing. I liked the shifting vantage points in the book, which allowed you to see things through Max's eye's, his brother Daniel, his mother, his father and his girlfriend Sylvia. Despite the rareness of being XX/XY intersex, the angst, trauma and emotion felt extremely really especially for Max and his mother. I am not sure that based on the description I would pick this book up at random to read, but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read it because it is wonderful.
Edie M. (Kennett Square, PA)
A Golden Novel
I found it very difficult to put this book down! I loved the characters and truly felt pain/joy when they did. I can not imagine living with such a secret but I can relate Karen in the book who wanted her family to be "normal"
Sometimes us moms try to fix everything and think our way is best when in reality, sometimes it is not.
Very touching and thought provoking, I will recommend this book to my book club.
Iris F. (Defray beach, FL)
It's a rare treat to come across a novel that is as well written and compelling as Golden Boy. From almost page one I was hooked and found myself sneaking away to read. Though there is a scene early on that is not for the feint of heart, and the subject matter is emotionally heart rending, it is handled with sensitivity and intelligence. There are moral issues regarding matters we don't usually have to deal with, all are handled beautifully by this author.
If I have any negative criticisms it has to do with Daniel, Max's younger brother. Dialogue and thoughts assigned to him were much too mature for a ten year old. I believe this character was used to make many moral statements the author wanted to pass along.
Although at times gut wrenching it was wonderful to become absorbed into something of this quality.
Rosemary C. (Austin, TX)
Perfection and Normalcy
Abigail Tarttelin has written a thought provoking, in your face novel about a boy born "different" and how he and those close to him navigate in a world that probably won't understand. The characters are well-developed and sympathetic, moral and ethical issues are presented and debated, and we come away informed about the interest condition. Tarttelin is a good, bold writer, frank yet compassionate. I wasn't sure at first if I'd get into the novel with the story told segment by segment by each main character. It didn't take me long to get hooked, however, and this book was definitely worth the read. The ending may not satisfy everyone, but as I thought about it a bit after finishing the book, it was the best decision for Max at his current age and circumstances.