Book Review: Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
June 15, 2013 §
Golden Boy | Author:
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Family, Sexuality
Date Finished: June 1, 2013
CoffeeNCrackers Rating: 4 Cups of Coffee
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? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him — desire him — once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really? – Goodreads
What will I do if I am in Max Walker’s shoes? That is the question I ask myself once I finished reading this book. Little did I know about intersexuality, however Abigail Tartttelin, with her incredible writing talent, surprised me with “Golden Boy”. This is definitely a gripping novel of gender and identity, which plays with the readers emotion and at the same time gives the readers a new perception of gender conflicts exist in the society.
Max Walker is an intersex, but it was not a big issue for him. He was all athletic, brilliant, handsome, a perfect child to his parents, an idol to his brother, and a charming boyfriend to the schoolgirls. He was a “Golden Boy” .But, in one terrible night he was raped by his childhood friend, Hunter. The rape scene was the hardest part to read, it was awful that I even closed my eyes, as if I can feel the pain myself.
“He’s too big. The stretching snaps, stops, and turn to splitting. I can feel skin tearing down there”
To make things worst, Max even got pregnant. This accident rocks his world so hard and everything around him crumbled apart. His parents argued a lot and his relationship with Sylvie was broken up. He was forced to make one hardest decision after another and it was really heartbreaking.
At the beginning of the story, Daniel, Max’s little brother mentioned that he wanted to write a story about his brother. So I was a bit skeptical as I thought “Oh, no! Will this be a story told from a seven year old POV?” However, I am glad that Abigail chose to tell the story from multiple points of view. For this kind of story, I really think that a multiple narration is brilliant because readers can understand the conflicts highlighted from different perspectives. For example, from Max’s eyes I think that his mother’s decisions were mostly wrong, especially when Max asked her to stop the abortion and give him more time to think over but she just ignored it. But when reading from Karen’s perspective I kind of understand what made her to come into such a decision. Well, being a parents is not easy.
Some people may not like Karen and Steve, Max’s parents, because most of the decisions they made seems wrong and selfish, but all they did is just to keep their children and family safe. When Steve runs for the election, he put his family away from the limelight. I thought that all he cares is his reputation and his chance to be elected will be effected if Max’s secret becomes public, but actually Steve is doing the right thing because if the secret leaks out, it will do more damages to Max’s life. I liked Max’s girlfriend, Sylvie. She’s so understanding, and matured. Definitely, not an average girl. And they look so cute together! But the reason I give this book four stars instead of five is because there are several characters which supposed to give more impact to the story are underdeveloped. For example Archie, one of Max’s doctors, and of course Hunter. I wish that I could get to know him more.
“We thought we understood gender – the idea of men and women as finite concepts with boundaries between each other, but lately I have come to understand that we are only just beginning to comprehend what ‘gender’ is, what it means to be allocated a certain gender, how much that informs the person a child becomes..” – Dr. Archie
All in all, I really enjoyed “Golden Boy”. One of my favorite reads this year. This book gives me a new perception of gender issues. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, all these I considered as a spectrum of mental disorders. But, intersex is just a totally different issue. Totally recommended for teenagers and adults alike.