Sheryl R. (DeQuincy, LA)
Family drama (with a twist)
I love novels, biographies, and memoirs that delve into a family's inner workings, and I've read many of them over the years. This one, however, is the first I've ever seen that deals with the issue of intersexed individuals. Max, the adolescent at the center of the story, is intersexed and also is the family and community's "Golden Boy". The author, Abigail Tarttelin, was new to me (indeed, this is only her second book), but I was most impressed by her treatment of the sexuality issues in the book. It is apparent she has done her homework and it would not surprise me to find that she has some personal knowledge of how these issues affect a family.
The book is written in the voices of each family member and other characters in the plot, a style I often enjoy. The characters seem well-developed and their reactions seem extremely realistic and understandable to me, given their personalities and roles as described by the author.
The book was easy to read and provided much new insight and food for thought into the issue of intersexuality. I'd highly recommend it!
Catherine H. (Nashua, NH)
What would you do?
This is the story of Max, born hermaphrodite or intersex, boy and girl. The story is told by Max, his mother, father, little brother, girlfriend and doctor: the struggles they each face in their own way and how they deal with them.
Most importantly, this is the story of an exceptionnal human being, Max.
What would you do if born boy and girl, if you were the mother or father, brother or sister, friends of an intersex person?
If there is one thing we can all learn from this book, is whatever your gender we all are human beings.
Lauren T. (Orlando, FL)
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
I am a big fan of coming-of-age stories, and this book does a wonderful job of combining the coming of age of not only the main character, but also of the rest of his family. The characters are well fleshed out, and the situations, although they have been dealt with many times before by other novels, are new and interesting in this unusual context. Most of the characters are sympathetic, and because the story is told from the viewpoints of all of those characters, the reader gets a complete picture of the conflict that goes on in each person's mind. "Golden Boy" is a great read. I look forward to more from this author.
John W. (Saint Louis, MO)
Future Contender for Top Read of 2013
"Golden Boy" is one of the best novels I've read in years. When I read the plot summary I immediately thought of Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex," but I discovered a much more intimate story told through the voices and perspective of the main characters. Max is a character that you just can't help not to love, root and cry for him. I highly recommend this novel.
Pepper E. (Lawrenceville, NJ)
Interesting and compelling
I enjoyed reading "Golden Boy", the story of 16 year old Max and how he enters a turbulent time of his life under extraordinary circumstances. As the mother of teenagers, I was impressed with the authenticity of the voices in this story, and wished there could have been more character development of several of the characters to add some heft to the issues between Max and his long-time family friend Hunter, and I would have appreciated more on the dialogue between the parents for historical perspective since they were not united in their approach to their son's gender issues. I felt that having the story told in individual voices added to my understanding of the characters.
The issue of intersexuality did not bother me in "Golden Boy" the way it did in "Middlesex", but I think that was because Max was so likeable. I did not realize just how common this condition actually is, and I know I will be reading more about it. I liked the book overall and I feel the young writer shows promise.
Laurie F. (Brookline, MA)
Wonderful and Human Perspective of the Life of an Intersex Child
Confession: I didn't think I was going to like this book but I was quickly absorbed. Max's life experiences and interactions open your heart as well as your mind. I normally find the character-to-character perspective choppy and distracting but it worked in this novel. The author does a wonderful job developing the characters and having the reader sympathize and sometimes cringe as they become part of Max's life. I was ready to rate this book a five until it became a bit wordy in the last 50 pages or so.
Nancy H. (Foster City, CA)
An author with promise
Contains potential plot spoilers
While Golden Boy had very gripping story elements, I did not find the dialogue or overall writing style particularly compelling. However, if the author's primary intent is to introduce the issues surrounding intersexusality, she did that well. There was far more character development for the Walker family than for Hunter and his family. To increase the believability, one needs a better understanding of Hunter's motivations and conflicts and there should be flashbacks to earlier interactions between Hunter and Max showing Max has previously accepted being dominated by Hunter – particularly since Max is the star athlete, not Hunter. Also, it seemed like there was no build up between the two of them that pointed to a Hunter that would take such severe advantage of Max. And how was it that hyper-vigilant Karen never noticed any characteristics in Hunter that were of concern? Are we to believe that she eliminated her critical thinking abilities because Hunter's Mother is one of her oldest friends? I didn't buy it. Perhaps the foreshortened sequence of events were for dramatic effect, but it feels rather that critical scenes were eliminated. There are very charged scenes between the two young men.
Anyone who was not overly distressed or offended by any of the scenes from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series should be okay with Golden Boy. All in all, I was glad to have had a chance to read the book and I'm sure it will lead me to doing additional research on the topic of intersexuality. If the author's sincere desire is for the reading public to have a more clear understanding of intersex issues, she should include a suggested reading list of articles and books that she feels accurately portray such individuals at the end of the book.