Everybody has secrets. Everybody. The world would be a boring and potentially less complicated and fascinating place if we didn’t. However, secrets can be dangerous things too. What if the secret that you have determined everything about your life? What if that secret was so dark that it could tear your family and your world apart?
Well that is the over-riding theme to Abigail Tarttelin’s second novel Golden Boy. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice the great bard wrote ‘The truth will out’ and that is exactly what Max Walker’s family have spent the past 16 years trying to prevent. Max was born intersex. Even now, not a lot is known about how this happens but the affect that it can have on the individual – let alone their families – can be devastating. The Walkers have managed to keep Max’s intersexuality clandestine, only close family and friends are aware of his “condition.” However, when someone close to Max takes advantage of him the protective walls that have been put up around Max come tumbling down with distressing results.
It has to be said that it is so very rare to find a book that will simultaneously break my heart, have me clutching my chest in panic and have me aching so palpably for the characters; when I find a novel that can do that I know that I have found something special. Golden Boy is a fantastic insight into a world that we may have little or no knowledge of – in this case hermaphroditism – and combines it so seamlessly with worlds we have been a part of such as the intricacies of family life, being a parent and being a teenager. Tarttelin’s seemingly effortless switch between different character voices is truly remarkable that one can only sit in awe of this promising young talent.
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin is available now.
You can follow Abigail Tarttelin (@abigailsbrain) on Twitter.
* Review originally published on Different Scene