Blog Tour: Review Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin


Golden BoyGolden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Release Date: May 21 2013
Publisher: Atria
Format: ARC Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction

Source: Publisher

Goodreads Synopsis:
From a rising literary 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.




My Thoughts:

On the outside, the Walker family is pretty normal. Karen and Steve, mom and dad, are both successful in their careers; he is chief crown prosecutor, and she is a criminal prosecutor. They have both worked hard to get where they are and now Steve has hopes of becoming a member of parliament.

Max, the first born son appears perfect. Popular, with a good group of friends, good grades, on the high school football team and a bright future. Max doesn’t get into fights, drink or do drugs, never whines, or complains, and always does what is expected of him. Daniel, the Walker’s second son is always thinking. He picks up on things you wouldn’t expect a 9 and 4/5 age child to catch. Sometimes, he understands and sometimes he doesn’t. This leads to anger and behavior problems. Daniel doesn’t understand why it’s not ok to speak your mind; like calling your teacher a duck if she looks like one. Why is that not ok? Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to calls to mom and being sent home and it’s only more frustrating for Daniel that his brother Max is perfect.

But Max isn’t perfect. Max is intersex. Max has both girl parts and boy parts. And while his parents have never let Max feel any less perfect and loved, they don’t talk about it either. Max feels like it is the dirty little secret that could ruin everything for his family if it got out.

So while Max is dealing with normal teenage anxieties, discovering his identity, and peer pressure, now on top of that he worries about even being able to have a normal, healthy relationship with a girl, operations to “correct the mutations” and why, if he was born this way, does he have to change.
Then, as if that isn’t enough, the “cousin” Max grew up with, that one family friend who is so close they shared everything as kids included beds on sleepovers, violates his trust and destroys his self-confidence with one very intense act.

Hunter’s mom, Leah, is best friends with Max’s mom. The families have often gone on vacation together and shared holidays at one another’s houses. Max and Hunter have grown up as cousins, sharing everything from toys to beds. But all that changes, after one fateful night; the results of which send the Walker family hurtling down a path that will irrevocably change their lives forever.

When I was first given Golden Boy, I was hesitant as topics of sexuality can be sensitive. I am glad that I gave it the chance though. The first chapters, as with any book, are character introductions and as I went through them, I realized the complexity of the characters and the plot line itself. I found each character to be very well developed, with lots of depth and their own unique personalities. Abigail Tarttelin is very talented at making her characters come to life.

My favorite character would have to be Sylvie. Not one to change to fit in, Sylvie lives her way; she won’t be led by peer pressure. I just knew that if Max could trust her enough, she would be the one to accept his differences. She is quirky and fun, yet moody and dark at times; the exact girl you would never expect golden boy Max to even look twice at.

The storyline was amazing right from the beginning. I found myself drawn in very quickly, feeling the pain, anger, and hurt that the family went through. At times, I found it very intense; other times the sweet tenderness of teenage romance made my heart skip a beat. The pace is just right, but the land mines that mark the plot are mind-blowing. Just when you think the story can’t get any better, there is an unexpected twist to keep you on your toes, and turning the page to see how each character deals with the fallout.

I really, really enjoyed Golden Boy; a very intense family drama that I think will appeal to both adults and teens. I will definitely be finding Abigail Tarttelin’s first book Flick and watching for any future books she gives us.



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