Thursday, December 20, 2012

G16 Book Review of Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Name of Book: Golden Boy

Author: Abigail Tarttelin

ISBN: 978147672496

Publisher: Atria books

Type of book: Hermaphrodite, pregnancy, appearances, Great Britain, choices, 1990s, 2006, family, relationships, teenagers

Year it was published: 2013


The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he's the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush fro the girls in his school. He's even really nice to his little brother.. Karen, Max's mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain teh facade of effortless excellence she has constructed through 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. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encricle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his 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 Walker really?

Written by twenty-five year old rising star Abigail Tarttelin, Golden Boy is a novel you'll read in one setting bill will never forget; at once a riveting tale of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity, and a coming-of-age story like no other.


I enjoyed all characters besides Sylvie in beginning. I didn't like her and couldn't understand why the author chose to include her. Sylvie wasn't given enough depth or personality for me to like or to be able to relate to her. Later on I kind of liked her, but not as much as Max or Karen or Daniel or Archie or Steve. I enjoyed seeing how the author demonstrated Max's kindnesses and good points. I liked seeing Karen trying to control the situation, or trying to follow societal mores and pressures, as well as Steve being torn between giving Max an easy life, or just letting him be himself societal pressures be damned. Daniel I liked as well, at least he sort of acted as kind of a comic relief, or helped Max come to major realizations about himself. What I found odd is Archie. Although Archie is from India and represents the medical opinion, I wonder why the author chose to give her a name that had me thinking she's a man?


Trying to listen to self instead of others.


This is told in first person narrative from Max's, Daniel's (Max's younger brother,) Karen's (Max's mother),Sylvie's and Steve's (Max's father) points of views, as well as Archie's (the doctor that treats Max.) What I really liked was the relationship between Daniel and Max. Instead of telling the personality, she shows it over and over how kind and gentle and sweet Max is towards Sylvie and his younger brother. I also liked going inside Karen's head and wish more time could have been devoted to Steve, so I could understand him better.

Author Information:

October 13, 1987 in The United Kingdom


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Literature & Fiction, Women & Gender Studies, Parenting & Families

member since
July 2012

About this author

In May 2013, from twenty-four-year-old literary rising star Abigail Tarttelin comes Golden Boy

- an unforgettable novel about a boy, a secret, and the single traumatizing event that sends his seemingly charmed life into tailspin.

(She also wrote a novel titled Flick.)


Wow, this is an incredibly intense book. I have read a number of coming-of-age stories about different genders and characters such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, How to Kill a Mockingbird and so forth, but none took my breath away like this one. What happens when a character is neither male nor female starts becoming a teenager? A character that's the true "hermaphrodite"? What are they thinking, feeling? I'm not sure how accurate the author is, but she truly presents a character that raises more questions and no answers. The book questions whether or not the sex reassignment surgery is correct, how can a hermaphroditic pregnancy differ from regular teenage pregnancy, and the issue of love and rape and sibling as well as relationships. The best part I liked is when Max's younger brother asks him what's he afraid of, and Max replies that secrets scare him and proceeds to describe an effect that secret has on a family. Besides the beginning of a certain love interest, I have no other complaints about the book.

Quick notes: I won this book on thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

 5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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