Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin

“‘Daniel’

My brother gets all As at school, and is generally always nice to everybody. He is on the county football team that trains and plays at his high school, and they rotate captain between the three best players, which is him and his best friends, so for one month out of every three, he is captain of the team. People like him because he is fair and alway calls out the names of the other players to support them and claps when they win, plus if they won because of someone else’s goal, he will always make sure that that person holds the trophy in the picture for the paper.

He is like the perfect one of the two of us.”

Max is different, he has always been different and he has always been fine with it. Born intersex he has always associated with the male gender and that is what his family have brought him up as. Very few people know about Max’s condition, just his parents, their best friends and Hunter, the son of his mothers best friend who is practically family. Max is the model student and the model son, pleasing everyone around him for the past 16 years many people think he can do no wrong. Then, one autumn night, something unthinkable happens to Max and it changes him. Struggling to come to terms with his own identity. Max needs his family, friends and girlfriend more than ever but can they really help him as his world falls apart?

***

This was a book that is going to stay with me for a long time to come. Its a book that I am going to recommend to everyone I ever speak to and it is a book that made me feel so deeply for a character that I thought they were a part of my life.

Golden Boy is NOT a YA book. Thats one of the first things I have to say as this blog is mostly about YA books. The topics covered within in the book are interesting and should be discussed with young adults but the book itself is not a book for young adults. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be read by them though and it you honestly think you are mature enough to handle this book then please, please do read it. The book is brutal and uncomfortable and really gets your emotions running throughout. It made me feel every emotion I could possibly think of whilst I was reading and then made those emotions grow more and more with every page. It was incredible and heartbreaking and honestly took twists and turns I didn’t expect.

Its so, so difficult to talk about Golden Boy without spoiling anything. Right from the offset there are things that happen that I didn’t expect and because I didn’t I think it made my reading of the book even better so I don’t want to share them with anyone who I want to actually read the book. It is uncomfortable right from the start and in all honesty if I’d have known what was to happen I wouldn’t have begun it on a packed commuter train at half 7 in the morning! Because of this though it grabs you and makes you want to carry on until there are no pages left and I loved it for that.

The whole story is about Max and the people around him. It is told from multiple perspectives, including Max’s, Max’s mother Karen, Max’s father Steve, his brother Daniel, and his girlfriend Slyvie. There are also chapters told from the point of view of the local GP, Archie, who helps Max out on a few occasions and is an incredible example of what GPs should be, she’s approachable and honest and cares for Max and although she probably gets a little too involved in his life she is a lovely character who I really liked. The other characters are brilliant too and I have to say that my favourite was definitely Slyvie, who I honestly wanted to be friend, I think we’d get on brilliantly.

I really did love this book. It showed me things I never even thought about before when it came to gender identity and if the stats which are mentioned are true it opened my eyes to how many people are effected by gender identity and other LGBTQIA issues. I loved that this book tackled a lot of what it could be like to be intersex and although the condition that Max actually had is very rare, it covered it brilliantly.

Golden Boy was published on January 30th by Phoenix Books, an Orion imprint. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
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