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Golden Boy

By Abigail Tarttelin

Golden Boy
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  • Published in USA  May 2013,
    352 pages.

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There are currently 65 reader reviews for Golden Boy
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Dorothy L. (Boca Raton, FL) (01/06/13)

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.
Sheryl R. (DeQuincy, LA) (01/05/13)

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!
Jinny K. (Fremont, CA) (01/05/13)

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.
Catherine H. (Nashua, NH) (01/04/13)

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 exceptional 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.
Pepper E. (Lawrenceville, NJ) (01/03/13)

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.
Lauren T. (Orlando, FL) (01/03/13)

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) (01/03/13)

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.
Linda W. (Summit, NJ) (01/02/13)

Parenting Highs and lows
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is definitely a page turner with unexpected twists in the plot. The development of the parents - Steve and Karen - unfolds all the way to the end of the story with an interesting reversal of roles. The framework of the book and the topic of adolescent crisis initiated by a unique health issue reminded my of Jodi Pichoult books.

I have worked with teenagers and the issues and thought processes revealed in Max, Sylvie and Daniel ring true. The ups and downs of their relationships provided a realistic backdrop to the primary plot of Max dealing with his sexuality and his parents denial of his need to assert control over his life.

I would highly recommend this book to parents and even young adults as it will spark discussion about what constitutes gender identity and how do parents deal with children who are 'different'.

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