From twenty-five-year-old literary rising star Abigail Tarttelin comes an unforgettable novel about a boy, a secret, and the single traumatizing event that sends his seemingly charmed life into tailspin.
Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he's the perfect son, the perfect friend, and a perfect crush for the girls in his school. He's even really nice to his little brother, Daniel, a decidedly imperfect ten-year-old. Karen Walker is a beautiful, highly successful criminal lawyer, who works hard to maintain the facade of effortless excellence she has constructed over the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won't have as much control, she worries that the facade might soon begin to crumble. Steve Walker is also a successful prosecutor, so much so that he is running for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.
But the Walkers have a secret. Max was born with forty-six XX chromosomes and forty-six XY chromosomes, which makes him intersex. He identifies as a boy and so has been raised lovingly that way. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of Max's past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won't his parents talk about it? Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Who is Max and who will he be in the years ahead?
While Max and his family face life-changing questions, revelations, and the ever-present threat that Hunter presents, Max falls in love. He might be flawed, but could he be the perfectly imperfect boyfriend for misfit Sylvie Clark, the oddball loner in his class?
Told in first person narratives alternating between Max, Daniel, Karen, Sylvie, Steve, and Archie, the physician who attempts to guide Max through this pivotal moment in his life, Golden Boy is at once a riveting novel of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity, and a coming-of-age story like no other.
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"Starred Review. Never overly clinical, this is not a case study, but rather, at its heart, a warmly human coming-of-age story, thanks to the fact that Max is such an appealing character. And so his desperate search for identity is gripping, emotionally engaging, and genuinely unforgettable, as, indeed, is this accomplished first novel." - Booklist
"[An] intense and fearless U.S. debut from English writer Tarttelin." - Publishers Weekly
"Tartellin's writing is heavy on emotions and introspection but not especially incisive, relying instead on movement among the one-dimensional characters to sustain the simple plot. This lengthy coming-of-age story spliced with "issues" trades on empathy rather than strong storytelling and seems pitched at a younger readership." - Kirkus
"Abigail Tarttelin is a fearless writer. In Golden Boy, she balances a harrowing coming of age with a deeply compassionate portrait of a family in crisis, and the result is sometimes brutal, often tender, and always compelling. This is a gripping and fully-realized novel." - Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Lola Quartet
"Golden Boy is at once meditative and swift, a coming-of-age tale about the difficulties of growing up amid shame and secrets and success. Abigail Tarttelin writes with a sharp-eyed grace in this fascinating, heartfelt gem of a novel." - Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness
"Golden Boy is terrific. A poignant, brave and important book." - S.J. Watson, author of Before I Go To Sleep
"Gritty yet humane, startlingly modern yet utterly timeless, Golden Boy hits all the deepest, biggest novelistic notes - family, identity, tragedy and hope - without the merest hint of strain. In Abigail Tarttelin's American debut, she has already proven herself to be a writer of extraordinary empathy and incredible wisdom... and she makes it look so easy. Tarttelin is the real deal." - Rachel Shukert, author of Starstruck and Everything Is Going To Be Great
"Gripping and beautifully-written, Abigail Tarttelin's Golden Boy is a courageous and profound exploration of social and sexual identity and its world of manifold complexities and challenges." - Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree
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Abigail Tarttelin is a writer, an actress, and the book editor for Phoenix magazine in the UK. Her novel, Golden Boy, received a 2014 Alex Award and was a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award. She lives in London.
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