Bonnie B. (Port St. Lucie,, FL)
Max is a 'perfect' young man. His grades are great, the girls love him, he's captain of the football team, and he doesn't give his parents trouble. There is one great family secret, however. Max is intersex. This book provides a lot of information about intersexuality and it is a wonderful story of Max, his friends and his family. Told from varied viewpoints, we get to know Max and his life. This is a wonderful book, well-written and a page-turner at the same time.
Bobbie D. (Boca Raton, FL)
Golden Boy named Max
First of all, I think Golden Boy, which is the title, will confuse people. I thought it was about Sammy Davis Jr and his show on Broadway years ago. Would like to call it MAX which says it all. (Neither male or female).
Always difficult to raise a "special" child. Even more so, when a parent runs for public office and is subject to close scrutiny. You are drawn to Max (a child in his mid teens, with both XX and XY chromosomes, now referred to as "intersex"), who is popular, good looking and bright. But he carries his medical history pretty much in secret. This book would be a good read for older teens and young adults to show tolerance. Also for psychiatrists, sociologists and teachers. You see how wrong doctors are when they discuss a child's problem with the parents and ignore the child who is in the same room. Readers, who previously read State of Wonder, or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, will like this book a lot. Genetics and medical intervention play a very important part here.
The author divides her chapters by the characters and is well written.
There is a quote from Max that I think is so important. "It takes strength to be proud of yourself and to accept yourself when you know that you have something out of the ordinary about you. I had that strength."
Rebecca K. (Illinois)
Heart-breaking and fascinating
"Golden Boy" is one of the best novels I've read in years. It provides a heart-wrenching view at the growing pains faced by an intersex teen. Max's story is full of family secrets, medical questions, and difficulties with dating. It's a page-turner, and I read it in several days, not wanting to put it down to go to bed at night. Heart-breaking at times, the novel provides honest glimpses into a family full of secrets and lies. I highly recommend it.
Katherine Y. (Albuquerque, NM)
Great Young Adult Novel
As a fan of young adult novels, I think this novel would do very well if marketed in that category. As other reviewers have noted, it is easy to see the plot coming. But, Max is a very sympathetic character and his confusion is very believable. I found his parents to be unlikeable and difficult to understand - in that they didn't seem to have put much thought into addressing the situation with their son. The author wrote most comfortably in Max's voice and the switching of perspectives was not always seamless, but I think this format would appeal to a young adult audience.
MaryEllen K. (Albany, NY)
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Max Walker was born intersex, a fact that apparently did not cause much conflict or confusion for him as a child. However, when he is 16, aspects of his sexuality are forced into immediate consideration for Max and his parents. Karen and Steve had been completely oblivious to the psychological and social dilemmas Max would face as a teenager, so they had not discussed sex with him at all. Max is tormented about something that has happened to him, and his anguish is made very palpable by the author. He is dealing with so many confusing issues, with no one to turn to who might be able to understand and empathize with his unique condition. I very much liked the two characters who DO provide some support: his doctor, and his friend Sylvie. This book brought to mind two books I have read which also featured intersex protagonists: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and Annabel by Kathleen Walker. I think that having read these standout novels enhanced my enjoyment of Golden Boy.
Andrienne G. (San Pedro, CA)
Coming of age story with a twist
I am glad I got a copy of this book. I'm an avid reader and it takes a lot to surprise me these days. Although I already guessed what the "betrayal" was before I cracked open the book, I felt that the author did a good job in handling it. She really captured the voice of Max. What I didn't like was the shifting of perspective. I thought a 3rd person would have sufficed in telling this story. First person would have been too typical, but having so many characters tell their side was a bit tedious. Still, the course of action was well-conceived. This book is not as lyrical as some books of this theme (Levithan's Every Day is a good one), mostly the events unfold without any fuss. But the author is young so there's time to evolve. I am also partial to British authors.
Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)
a different perspective
This novel was very readable, almost compulsively so.I would call this a coming of self story. I liked the different voices forming the chapters so that each "side" of the story was being examined. What disappointed me was that I could see what was coming ...several of the plot twists were predictable. All in all, however, this was a good first effort. I believe this would be an excellent book club read.