Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Golden Boy

 Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin


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 determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years, but now that the boys are getting older, 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 rating:
4.5 of 5 stars

Max is what people call a “golden boy”: He has perfect grades, he's good-looking, all girls have a crush with him, he's everyone's favorite, etc. He's also an intersex. But that's no problem – not even to him. That is, until he's sexually assaulted and he starts to question himself and people around him.

This book evokes so many feeling, but joy is not one of them. In general, it's depressing and painful to read, but I also got really, really angry at some points. This is highlighted by the fact that the book is narrated in multiple 1st person POVs, so you could be inside the characters' minds, and the thoughts of some of them were not comfortable to read.

Something I didn't like quite a lot was the writing. I felt it was a little too... flat at some points – not with Max, though, because his narration is perfect. An example of this would be Max's little brother: He didn't feel like a 10-year-old; more like a robotic kid.

But I let that pass because it was a powerful read. It addressed themes like identity, sexuality, etc., and at least for me, they were addressed correctly, though I don't know if my opinion should be trusted on this, since this is the first book I read about an intersexual character.

I also liked some of the explanations given. You see, I... I didn't know intersexuality existed until a few (very few) years ago. My parents hid all things not “straight” (and the book does touch this theme – man/ woman; black/white; good/bad, etc.) from me, and at my school they were not talked about (not because they avoided them, though; they were just not talked about).

This damn thing prevented me from reading some books, agreeing with certain things, talking about certain other things, etc. My mind got out of control once I entered college (last year), because there were more liberties and I could let myself be influenced by people (not on purpose).

In summary, my knowledge about intersexuality was limited to almost none, so of course I was grateful for the explanations. Besides, it was necessary to keep the plot moving. I should still do more research on some themes, though.

Overall, it was a great read. I'm glad I finally got around reading this. I recommend it to everyone, just have in mind that it's not an easy book to swallow.


WARNING!!!! BIG GODDAMN SPOILERS. I wanted to say some things, but they're HUGE spoilers, so careful if you haven't read this book.

Let's start with the aggressor. All things in his behaviour were wrong. First, when he enters Max's room and starts telling him to show him his genitals. Max is clearly not comfortable, yet what does he do? He forces him to have sex with him.

And what worsened the situation? That not only did he RAPE him, but he also HUMILIATED him. Telling Max that what he was doing didn't apply as being gay because Max was not even a boy – that he was less that a boy – ... what is god's name was that?

*rages a lot*

Also, Max's mother. Hated. The. Woman. She says she does things for Max' own good, but she doesn't even let him make his own decisions... and the baby... AAAHHHH!!! I just can't with that.

And when she got notice of Max's pregnancy... when she said she was disappointed... when she started to get a little angry because she thought Max was gay... at the ending when she still felt icky about the possibility of Max being bisexual... whenever she didn't trust her son... her favoritism... completely ignore Danny... blame her husband for eveything...

I think it's pretty obvious for you that I despised her if you read these things I posted:

I know there are some people who think like that in real life, and that made it even more sad... especially because I feel powerless as to solve the situation – I mean, really? What can I do to stop it? Also, random fact about me: I was raised into thinking just like her. I feel ashamed of that now. Gladly, I got over that. I just wonder what made me realise the truth.
(...) it’s no use asking why questions of sexuality and gender give people the creeps, and it’s no use blaming it on society and saying it should change, because nothing is going to change about high school…. nothing is going to change about my high school and make it okay for people to know the truth about me.

That quote made me feel really small, for example.

Most of the things that happened in this book are really common. The problem is that they're not talked about, and I wish they were so people would not react like they did to Max's situation. Part of the problem is also something Max said in the book, but I couldn't find the quote, so I can't write it here.

I just know that, had I read this book two years ago, I would have hated it. My mind changed a lot over the course of 2014.


That was long. Don't worry, now – I won't take more of your time. The rant ends here. Sorry if it's too much rambling and too little sense.


  1. Oh! Skipping the spoiler because I have this book (from Christmas) and I plan on reading it. But thank you for reminding me that I have it on my shelf!

    1. Don't worry - I wouldn't want to ruin your reading experience of this book. Yay! I'd want to know what you think when you read it.