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“Abigail Tarttelin has written an unforgettable novel. Golden Boy pulls you in from the very first page and holds you tight, gripping you by the throat and not letting go until it reaches its brilliant and masterful conclusion. Max Walker is the golden boy, and you will root for him, cry for him, fear for him, at times get angry at him but guaranteed you will never forget him. Not ever. The characters who make up Max's universe, from determined Karen, to distant Steve, to a deceitful Hunter, are all written in a perfect pitch. The dialogue is real, the pace is stealth bomber fast, and the plot never lets up. Tarttelin has blasted it out of the park in her first at bat here in the States. She has written a novel that goes beyond the page and reaches into a reader's heart and stays there, never to leave, never to be forgotten. Golden Boy is that good of a novel, and Tarttelin is that gifted of a writer. This book simply deserves to be read and treasured.”
“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.”
“Golden Boy is terrific. A poignant, brave and important book.”
“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.”
“A dramatic, thoroughgoing investigation of the complexities of sexuality and gender.... 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.”
“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."
Posted June 18, 2013
Amazing, gripping and stunning!I did not expect such a heart-piercing story ...
The story of Max Walker touched me, moved me... I had great difficulty to lay out this book before reaching the last pages. I did not expect such a heart-piercing story ...
I was angry, confused, outraged, puzzleheaded, amused by the events affecting Max, Daniel and their parent. I was overwhelmed by these feelings and it's the reason I truly liked the Max's story.
Indeed, Max is intersex. He has the same number of female and male chromosomes since his birth. He did not undergo any operation in his youth, so he is sexually neither a man nor a woman.
Having always kept the secret of his sexual ambiguity, his parents raised him to be the perfect, charming, clever boy that everyone can dream about.
If Max seems to accept himself and integrate among other children, things get complicated when sex enters into the equation of his perfect life.
If physically, he has the appearance of a charming 16 years old boy and he is attracted to girls, a rape will come disrupt and shattered his everyday life. A trauma with shocking consequences for the whole family.
Max will have to deal with a pregnancy in a boy's body. Soon he will start to ask questions about his hermaphroditism and what it means for his future. At 16, he will have to leave the fragile cocoon spun by his parents who thought to do well and learn to make his own choices.
In a world inclined to promptly judge according to well-defined criteria, Max is trying to find his place, to open up to others and to be loved as he is.
Beautifully told by the various viewpoints of the protagonists, the story does not leave indifferent.
Beyond the unexpected subject of intersex, the beautiful written skills of the author and the complexity of emotions perfectly transcribed, I broadened my horizons with this book.
A beautiful story of love and acceptance of differences.
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Posted November 10, 2014
Max: smart, funny, popular, cool, great kisser and intersex. Don’t ask Max what intersex is as he’s not quite sure of all the details, all he really knows is that he’s special as he has male and female parts. Max lets no one of the opposite sex get too close, for Max it’s all stops at the kissing. His parents are a quirky set and they frustrated me many times as I read the book. As Max enters his puberty years, most parents would be ready to address issues with their teens even without having this disorder staring them in the face but his parents seem to forget about Max’s life until things have blown up. I feel for Max, he seems so well adjusted to life and he is, if he forgets about his disorder but he can’t because that is a part of him. Max is assaulted and wandering into a clinic, Max finally feels in control. He’s able to find someone who will talk to him, just him and although he’s been violated, Max knows where he can go for help. No happy trails here, it’s a downward spiral, with implications that I dreaded. Sylvie, she sheds some light on the situation. He wanted more from her and that scared him. He fears intimacy, intimacy with the opposite sex and now he was falling for Sylvie. It was part about falling in love that scared him: wasn’t falling in love supposed to be fun and blissful? Could he take the risk and move forward with Sylvie, he had so much at stake revealing his secret, he would be a lamb brought to the slaughter if the relationship ever ended. For mature readers only as there are some controversial issues and mature subject matter.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 3, 2014
Posted June 11, 2013
Posted June 3, 2013
This was an unusal topic but the novel was riveting. I would like a sequel to read more about this family. This would be a good book club choice. Writing and format -- A++++Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 23, 2013
At first, I thought the book was weird, but after I finished it, I decided that it makes you think about questions of identity, about how we decide who we really are, and that the answers aren't simple, and are as different and individual as we are. A book that gets you thinking.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2013
Golden Boy is told through the voices of Max and those closest to him - six perspectives in all. I'm not sure the narration would have worked as beautifully any other way; so much insight would have been lost. Tarttelin has created characters so complex and multidimensional, it's almost impossible to pin them down. I especially felt this with Max's mother, Karen. As soon as the slightest judgment about her crept into my mind, her voice would soon narrate and make me see that things aren't explained as simply as I'd like. Although I still disagreed with many of her actions, I gained sympathy for her, and could begin to understand why she made the choices she did.
Our society's rigid views on gender can create overwhelming issues for people with intersex, especially as they come of age and start to think about all the ways their life will be different. Max is acutely aware that society is not going to change, and that is a major factor in the choices he makes. The abuse of trust Max experiences (be prepared - it is the worst possible abuse of trust) is horrific and devastating, but it is also a catalyst that forced Max into contemplating many facets of intersex he hadn't yet considered. That's a lot of heavy stuff all at once, on top of the usual adolescent angst.
In many ways, I could relate to Max's father, Steve. I felt that I share some of his parenting philosophy - Max's parents seem to be at opposite extremes from each other on that. Max's struggles made me realize that, while it's great to let your kids make their own choices, it's also important to realize when they need guidance; some issues are just too difficult for them to navigate on one's own.
This novel kept me up until the wee hours of the morning until I fell asleep against my will. I was completely involved in the story. Oftentimes my stomach would be in knots from sympathizing with him, from worrying about him. There were a few moments that completely and utterly shocked me. There were times I was shaken to my core. I felt angry that society is so stuck on a gender binary that people like Max, who are otherwise happy being who they are, aren't free to be themselves. I hate that they often face enormous pressure to change, just to make the rest of us feel more comfortable. I cared about Max.
I received a copy of Golden Boy via NetGalley. It's been almost four months since I finished reading it, and Max's story is still with me.
Posted April 5, 2014
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Posted July 28, 2013
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