Rating – 5 stars
Being a teenager is hard enough as it is – its one of the craziest times in a person’ life, its hormones and tempers, rebellions and confusions. It’s about feeling like a grown-up yet not being one, it’s about leaving behind your childhood and yet having a part of it lingering with you. Teenage hands down wins the trophy for being the most radically altering period of a person’ life, you are at a place which inevitably feels like the point where a fork in the road divides the journey before you. The side you pick will ultimately decide the course of your life. But do we always get a choice ? Can some doubts be ever cleared ?Sex & sexuality form a major part of a teenager’ life, but when that teenager happens to be someone like Max Walker, it can be so much more overwhelming than it already is. Max on the surface is a normal guy – he is athletic, not a genius but a straight A student. He is a loving elder brother, a great guy to hang out with, he is someone whose parents take pride in the way Max has shaped up.The only thing that makes Max different are the genes that determine a person’ gender – Max is a hermaphrodite or intersex. Max’ parents Karen & Steve are supportive and loving towards their child yet even they are so confused as to the fate of their baby. Discovering on birth they Max was a hermaphroditic child is a shock for them, but it doesn’t affect their feelings for their child as is sometimes the case in such instances. They raise Max as a boy and could not be more proud of him, as much as their younger son Daniel whose genetic makeup doesn’t have any complications is a sweet holy terror of his own Max is their pride. Yet all is not as well as everyone pretends to be, here is a family that’ somehow torn apart by its secret yet bonded enough to keep it hidden.Yet things start to fall apart when Max suffers an ordeal beyond his worst nightmares, raped by one of his oldest childhood friends – Hunter – someone who is considered as a cousin to him since their families are so close takes a toll on Max. The blow is worse off since Hunter not only abuses him knowing his condition, this experience also leaves him pregnant. A sixteen year old freaking out over having a child is understandable, but when that sixteen year old feels this may be the only chance to have a family, a biological child which was thought of as impossible even by his own doctors and parents is a traumatizing ordeal of the worst kind imaginable. How Max copes with the trauma of the rape and his own identity forms the crux of Golden Boy.Abigail Tarttelin has done a fabulous job in depicting the various facets of Max’ thought process. Since the book is divided in parts which are further written from the POV of different characters ranging from Max, to Karen, Steve, Daniel, Archie – Max’ sympathetic and understanding doctor to Sylvie is a great way for a reader to connect with all the different characters and get to know their side of the story, their thought processes. I would recommend everyone to read Golden Boy at least once for a riveting read.