Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin - 347 pages
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 for 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 the façade 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 façade 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 encircle 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? 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?
My Review: 4.5 stars
This book hits hard. You will be sucked into this story from the start and completely rooting for our protagonist, Max Walker, a 15 year old golden boy. This English author, at a mere 25 years old, deftly took a challenging, complex and misunderstood topic and brought it to the masses in a fascinating and often troubling story. There is much discussion about intersex, what it means and the variations of being intersex. This book challenges parents on making decisions for their kids and how much to share with them. It hits on being different, feeling shame, keeping secrets and trust. The story works well being told by the different characters and their feelings and observations about Max. Although this is being marketed to YA in some areas due the main character’s age, I suggest it only for an older YA or one who can deal with some of the grittiness in the details. Keep your eye on this author!
Quotes I liked:
- “I had no idea, when I was younger, about what love is, what it does, how it moves how it grows, what it feels like, why you value it.”
- “But autumn is loveable. It’s summer’s dying cousin. It’s somehow vulnerable, for the world to die so publicly. You feel tender about autumn.”
- “Thirteen seems young to start talking about sex, but I have heard it said that children are getting older.”
- “I’m a passive observer to the pain around me. I’m the fuse of the bomb. I don’t even light myself. I don't choose when I go out. I don’t explode. I just am.”
- “But your make your choices, whether they’re your own or made because toher pushed you to. Reasons are reasons. They’re not excuses.”
- “I never thought before how life is so accidental, how it can so easily and quickly be made, and then gone again, in the space of minutes. It makes me appreciate everything more, but it also makes me think about how much of our fates are set by chance, and how many little accidents had to happen to make me what and who I am.”
- “Sometimes I still feel that there are two of me: one clean, flawless picture, the other imperfect and cracked; one boy, one girl; one voice that speaks aloud and one that whispers in my ear; one publicly known to have been troubled but be on the mend, the other who has privately lost something to do with innocence and gained something to do with knowledge and adulthood that can never be undone. I feel sometimes there are things that tear me in two directions, that there are two sets of thoughts that grow side by side. But then I realize that I am whole, whatever that means and does not mean; I am complete without the need for additions or alteration.”
Tags: 2013, Fiction, Coming Of Age, YA, England
Labels: 2013, Coming Of Age, England, Fiction, YA