Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: May 2013
Categories: Literary, Coming of Age
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 Thoughts:

This story is still spinning through my mind. This book is shocking and beautiful. It is mind-bending and eye-opening.

Max knows that he is intersex. It hasn’t been much of an issue for him, mostly because his parents have kept him from knowing the full details. After an appalling assault Max is forced to face his “disorder”. Who is he? What is he? Will he live his life alone? Who can he trust?

These are questions that most teenagers ask themselves. But for Max they have more urgency. The decisions he makes now will have long lasting consequences.

Golden Boy is told from multiple points of view. Each narrator offers a fresh perspective. I especially enjoyed hearing from Daniel, Max’s little brother. His voice is humorous and innocent. This is a heavy read and hearing from Daniel gave the story some much needed levity.

Timely and important, Golden Boy is a must-read. I’m looking forward to whatever Abigail Tarttelin sets her mind to next.

Abigail Tarttelin is a novelist, actress, and Books Editor for Phoenix Magazine. In her spare time she reviews books for the Huffington Post and blogs about her adventures on Youtube.

49 thoughts on “Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

  1. You're right, Danial gives some much needed levity to the book. If found the dynamics between the parents interesting and heart breaking. Glad you liked it.


  2. I looked up Annabel and it sounds great! (That character was also intersex, so you do know what that is!) Intersex people used to be called hermaphrodites but that's not a term that is used much now, at least to my knowledge.


  3. I used to not like novels told from multiple points of view but must say they are growing on me. They used to seem contrived but now I'm curious about how differently people can see a situation.


  4. Initially, the cover attracted me to this book, and, until now, I really didn't know what it was about. But the idea of a coming-of-age story presented as a fascinating gender identity study sounds wonderfully complex. Just another book to add to the never ending TBR!


  5. This one's been on my book radar for a little while (Kate @ Booksaremyfavouriteandbest also liked it). I've hesitated because I absolutely loved Middlesex and when I loved a book on a particular subject, I occasionally hesitate to pick up others on the same subject, assuming they will never live up to the greatness. Silly, I know…I will have to request it from my library. If you say it's good, I trust you 🙂


  6. I haven't heard of this book at all! I definitely need to check it out. I was about to ask if you had read Middlesex but see you mentioned it above. That book was incredible.


  7. This sounds good, and quite important, too. Good to read your reply to Rebecca, I was thinking it was that condition but the newer phrase is new to me.


  8. Wow. This sounds like an amazing book. I recently read a series of articles about intersex individuals and how that affects my particular religious tradition. It's a fascinating subject and one that I hope will see more acceptance. I will definitely be checking this book out.


  9. This sounds fascinating. I think we need to read books like this to increase understanding and acceptance of intersex people. And the cover art is beautiful! Have you read Middlesex? It seems like a similar concept, except the protagonist doesn't grow up knowing about his anatomical differences.


  10. Fascinating review for what sounds like a fascinating book! Thanks for bringing something new and different to the table in so many respects, Jennifer.


  11. As I was reading I wanted to DO SOMETHING. There must be so many confused and struggling intersex people in the world. I can't imagine what it must be like. I wanted to gather them all in my home and feed them dinner or something, lol. Is that weird? Probably.


  12. I thought this book was great as well. I loved that the author presented various perspectives as for me it really added depth. I found myself at times completely understanding the mother's perspective and at other times was completely angry with her. I do hope this is a book that gets a lot of visibility.


  13. Yes! There were times when I wanted to shake that woman. Then, reading from her perspective you could see that she really was trying to do the best she could.I hope this book reaches a wide audience as well. It should.


  14. I'm going to agree with Kelly above – the cover definitely would not have peaked my interest if I hadn't read this review. But judging by your thoughts, I have to say Golden Boy sounds like a fantastic book. I really should check it out one day. Great review!


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