Golden Child: Book summary and reviews of Golden Child by Claire Adam

Golden Child

by Claire Adam

Golden Child by Claire Adam X
Golden Child by Claire Adam
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2019
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices about scarcity, loyalty, and love.

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.

When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn't come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul's fate, his world shatters - leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.

Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, Golden Child is both beautiful and unsettling; a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love.

Readers Guide

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Why is Clyde hesitant to accept help from people, even family? Do you think Uncle Vishnu is genuine in his desire to help? Do you trust him?
  2. Why does Joy insist that the twins attend the same school?
  3. Should Peter be responsible for looking after Paul, even if it impedes his progress?
  4. While living, Uncle Vishnu helped keep the Deyalsinghs afloat, improving Peter's prospects and securing his future. How does his death affect them in the immediate and distant future? How does his death affect the family, as a whole, in the immediate and distant future?
  5. Is Romesh right in feeling that he, as well as the rest of the family, is entitled to a portion of the money that Uncle Vishnu left for Peter? How do you foresee this affecting relationships within the family moving forward?
  6. Does putting Paul in St. Saviour's—a school he's not qualified to attend—for the sake of keeping the twins together, help or hurt him?
  7. What do you make of Father Kavanagh assuring Paul that he's normal, contrary to what others have said his whole life? Is he right? Is too much made of Paul's deficiencies? Do you think Father Kavanagh oversteps his boundaries in expressing this belief to Clyde?
  8. What effect does Father Kavanagh's assurance have on Paul? How does it affect their relationship, as well as Father Kavanagh's relationship with Clyde?
  9. Paul initially stands up to the bandits during their attempted robbery. When they later approach him outside of the house, Paul all but surrenders. Why does he submit the second time around?
  10. Why does Clyde opt not to use Vishnu's money for Paul's ransom despite the mounting pressure from the kidnappers, Joy, and, then, Peter?
  11. Does Clyde make enough of an effort to bring Paul home safely? Because of his actions, or lack thereof, is he ultimately responsible for what happens to Paul?
  12. Is it right to sacrifice the future (or life) of one child to ensure the future of another if the latter's is assuredly brighter? Would you make the same decision as Clyde?
  13. In the airport, Peter thinks to himself, Paul has played his part. Daddy has played his part. What do you make of each person's role in Peter's eventual success? How should Clyde feel about his role, especially after Paul's death? How do you think Paul would feel about his role? Do you think he sacrificed himself in order to protect his family?
  14. Should Peter feel guilty about attending Harvard after Paul's death?
  15. What does Clyde's reaction at the end of the book reveal about his guilt? Does he think what he did (or didn't do) was worth it? In your opinion, was it worth it?
  16. What do you think are a parent's obligations to his or her children?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Throughout this stunning portrait of Trinidad's multicultural diversity, and one family's sacrifices, soaring hopes and ultimate despair, Adam weaves a poetic lightness and beauty that will transfix readers." - Publishers Weekly

"Recommended for readers of suspenseful family dramas." - Library Journal

"Golden Child swells with wisdom about masculinity, family, violence and sacrifice. I read it in a sitting, gripping the pages, nails chewed down by the final word. An intense, heart-breaking debut." - Daniel Magariel, author of One of the Boys

"Golden Child is a stunning novel written with force and beauty. Though true to herself, Adam's work stands tall beside icons of her tradition like V.S. Naipaul." - Jennifer Clement, author of Gun Love

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Reader Reviews

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Nancy F

An amazing story from a gifted writer
Claire Adam is a very gifted writer and I find it amazing that a story so powerful is her first novel. I was entranced with her writing from the very beginning of the book.

I learned a good bit about the life of everyday people in Trinidad and how precarious their lives can be. The word pictures drawn of each character are truly quite effective and draw you in to some and repel you from others. Even though the culture and lifestyle of the characters are quite different from my own, I was easily able to feel their strengths and weaknesses, their hopes, dreams and determination. Mrs. Adam grew up in Trinidad and relays quite beautifully the complexities, subtleties and heartache that can result from everyday life there.
I strongly recommend this moving story. I think it would be a wonderful selection for book clubs that enjoy meaty discussions.

Sue D. (Hudsonville, MI)

Twins
Golden Child is set in Trinidad and the descriptions of the country, culture, and environs engulf the story. The father of twin boys is ultimately faced with an impossible decision, and they all must deal with the consequences. Claire Adam is an exceptional writer. Her style is spare and succinct and clear and heart wrenching.

Diana P. (Schulenburg, TX)

The Golden Child
Well written and haunting. The story of a hard working man struggling to support his family in rural Trinidad. He favors one of his twin sons over the other and because of a family betrayal one son is put in danger. It is a profound human story with many emotions.

Amy S. (Tucson, AZ)

Packs the Wallop of a Hurricane
The number one determining factor for me in choosing a book is the setting. I love learning about places I have never been or know very little about. And, yes, some of the things I learn about new places are tough, and heartbreaking, and they make me angry. But the unhappy, ugly, heartbreaking stories MUST BE TOLD too.

The book moved slowly for me. And it worked. In a land of hot, humid, oppressive heat, stories take longer to tell. And Claire Adam told it beautifully. She didn't show us the glorious warmth of a beach vacation. This heat was suffocating. It held me down. It made me uncomfortable. That is powerful writing.

And it built until it exploded- -into a horrific crisis for an entire family, but particularly for the father, who was forced to make a decision no parent should have to. And then later for a son and brother who really knew the true cost of his dream.

Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)

Rich, complex, and compelling story
Claire Adam is an exceptional writer. Her descriptions and characters were so true-to-life that I felt like I was inside the story. Once I started I had to find out what happened to Paul and to his family. Although the ending is bittersweet, this book is an example of transcendent contemporary writing.

Gail H. (Live Oak, FL)

Glimpses into West Indian Culture
At first, this book was a bit slow & I didn't know if I could be drawn into it. However, I was quite glad that I persevered as the novel began to pull me in more and more. Claire Adam skillfully outlined the lives of Clyde, Joy, and their twins, Peter & Paul, and how they were intertwined with their extended family and the community. The author made me want to learn more about Trinidad and its inhabitants. I would certainly recommend this book to others.

...34 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Claire Adam Author Biography

photo: Tricia Keracher-Summerfield

Claire Adam was born and raised in Trinidad. She studied Physics at Brown University and later took an M.A. in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. She lives in London. Golden Child is her debut novel.

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