Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room
Golden Boy is the story of a fifteen-year-old boy who is intersex, meaning he has both male and female genitals. He is different. And he is very aware of his difference. His parents agreed to naming him Max after a long debate. His mother because it was a boy’s name. His father because it could be short for Maxine. Doctors wanted to do a genital reassignment surgery when he was a baby to turn him into a girl. Max’s father refused even as his mother thought it was the only way to go. It didn’t happen. New doctors wanted to do a reassignment surgery on him when he was thirteen to turn him into a boy because he’d taken on the role of a boy and looked more like a boy than a girl. Throughout all of this, Max drops his head and lets things happen to him, lets his parents decide his fate. And then one horrible night, his best friend does something terrible to him. Something that will change his life, and that of his family, forever. When Max finds out he can indeed have children, and is currently pregnant, he has no idea what he should do. Should he keep the child? Should he have the reassignment surgery to fully become a boy? Max, having kept his secrets from everyone, has no one to talk to, even his little brother is clueless to the things going on in his life. Just how will he cope? How will this affect his entire family? His father is running for Member of Parliament, which means the media will be all over the family. What if these secrets get out? What then?
At the end of the blurb on the inside cover, it says “…a novel you’ll read in one sitting…” Honestly, I didn’t believe that at first. But the deeper I got into the story, the more I couldn’t put it down! True, I didn’t read it in one sitting, but I would have if I could have. If I could describe this book in three words they would be: heartbreaking, gripping, and gut wrenching. All at the same time. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I wanted to step into the book and be the friend Max needed. I wanted to smack his mother for the insensitive things she said. I understood why she said them, I know she thought she was doing the right things, but I still wanted to smack her. This book brought out all of my emotions, my anger, my sympathy, my fears for Max, everything. And the thing about this book that makes it even more gripping is the fact that people like Max really do exist. Right now, there is someone out there struggling with their life because of issues similar to Max’s. This is not some LGBTQ fantasy. This is real life for some people. And the realness of Golden Boy is scary and riveting. I loved this book very much, for the plot, the well-rounded characters, and how well everything melded together. While this book was told from multiple points-of-view (Max, his 9-year-old brother, his mother, his father, his girlfriend), and while I normally don’t like books that go above two or three POVs, this one was handled expertly well. This is a book that both adults and teens will enjoy simply because you get into the heads of all of the main characters, and each one is written about very realistically. A heartbreaking, gut wrenching, gripping book, I urge everyone to pick up a copy and read it today!