Catharine L. (Petoskey)
An unusual story
I was hooked in the first three pages with Daniel's (age 9 4/5's) description of his older brother Max. The story is told from the viewpoint of 6 different characters. It is a coming of age and family in crisis situation.... I didn't rate it a 5 because the discussions about the XX/XY sex chromosomes were too long. The story, however, is fascinating and the characters very real.
Barbara G. (Lisle, IL)
A Golden Tale
Abigail Tarttelin tackles with compassion the unlikely tale of an intersex individual who identifies as a male, but could be either. We are introduced to Max, the high school Golden Boy who hides a terrible secret. This book would appeal to anyone interested in questions of sexuality and acceptance, but told from multiple viewpoints as each character has his or her own section.
Patricia S. (New Canaan, CT)
Choices and Controls
The novel, alternating between the voices of the 6 main characters, brings more depth to the story, enabling us to this view this story of choices and controls quite intimately. That the author is only 25 and can write about such sensitive matter so maturely led me to re-read the novel--and I loved it even more the second time.
This would make an excellent book club discussion, bearing in mind the suitability of its sensitive nature. As a nurse and a mother, I say KUDOS to Abigail Tarttelin! It's a rare book that comes along that stirs me as much as GOLDEN BOY did. I look forward to her next book.
Marta M. (Santa Ana, CA)
Told from different perspectives, this book is golden in many ways. Max is a popular high school boy. He is captain of his football league, girls are drawn to him, he gets good grades, and he is kind even to his annoying little brother. But Max has a secret, he is intersex. He is exactly half and half. The story goes deeply into his and his family's feelings about this. His family and him haven't spoken about this situation at all and this fact creates most of the dramatic situation here. Even though I learned a lot about people who are intersex, I learned a lot more about communication within families. How having a secret, even though you are trying to protect someone, will blow up in your face at the most inopportune times. I highly recommend this book. It is easy to read and not forgettable.
Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)
The younger, not yet so golden brother of the protagonist Max says "You may be different like me, Max, but the good news is that we're living in a world of different people." A wonderfully prescient view from a 10 year old that should be a part of the thinking of most all of us living in the present age. Why do we cling to "normal" and fear the "other", the different? This novel certainly has raised those questions for me while reading about what is now called a middlesex person. We have so narrowly defined sex and gender that any minute deviation drives some people to condemnation and yet we live in an age where fertility drugs, surrogate birthers, sperm donors, in vitro fertilisation, ultra sound, sexual identification and other interventions are considered normal. These interventions are accepted as the results might not be.
I loved reading this novel seeing how accepting one's own very different being growing up in a family conflicted by it could bring sense and acceptance by those who could appreciate the sliding scale of different.
Dorothy L. (Boca Raton, FL)
A Mixed Review
Initially I found this book disturbing. I don't think it will have universal appeal, but I do think it is an interesting treatment of a subject many readers are not that familiar with. I did get caught up in the story fairly soon and wanted to know how it would turn out. The author uses a fairly common premise--a family with secrets. This secret was a big one and had tremendous ramifications for many people.
I have a few criticisms of the book. It is not particularly well written. The style is simplistic--many of the sentences are subject-verb formulation. There is little variation in sentence structure which made it somewhat tedious to read. The constant jumping around in points of view engaged the reader but was disjointed because the viewpoints were being changed too often.
I found it implausible that today a man would run for office with such a big family secret and endanger his family in the process and that there were no problems earlier in Max's life. There also needed to be a backstory for Hunter and Max's relationship that led to the rape.
I am somewhat ambivalent about the book but feel that it may be a worthwhile addition to knowledge about intersex and the family dynamics that result.
Jinny K. (Fremont, CA)
Good book on unusual subject
Golden Boy is a haunting emotional novel about a subject not frequently written about. It's shifting point of view among its characters is very well done and each narrative seems true to the teller.
Its only slight flaw might be the tendency to be a little over-informative about the subject of intersex persons, so it seemed a little documentary in parts.
All in all a wonderful novel and I think it would be ideal for young adult readers as well. When it was over, I felt a wish to continue to know what happens to this family in the future and that is a mark of great book.