Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Golden Debut: Golden Boy

Have you heard of Abigail Tarttelin? If not, chances are that will change. Abigail Tarttelin is a twenty-five year old literary genius that released her first novel, Golden Boy, in May 2013. The book has received rave reviews from the media and by readers, and Abigail is being considered one of the finest up-and-coming young authors to enter the literary scene in the past year.

Explaining the story is difficult without giving away too much. The story is told in alternating narratives by members of the Walker family, as well as few important non-family relations. Max, the golden boy, is an intersex teenager that has been able to grow up without ridicule or personal struggle—actually, he’s very popular at school and especially with the ladies. The problem is no one but Max’s family and a few close family friends know about his condition. Max has grown up identifying as a boy and feels secure in his sexuality. When he becomes the victim of a violent act his whole world turns upside down and he is forced to deal with personal issues that he had held at arm’s length. In turn, his parents must learn to stop ignoring the fact that Max is no longer a child and must be involved in the decisions that impact his life and personal identity.

Coming-of-age and family crisis are common themes in debut novels, but very rarely is intersexuality handled anywhere in literature. The book is very well-paced and easy to read—with the exception of some emotionally uncomfortable parts, which are difficult for their own reasons. Overall, the book has a lot to offer and Tarttelin masterfully handled the subject matter.

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