Max Walker is the golden boy. He's attractive, intelligent, athletic. He's even nice to his little brother. Max is going to pass his exams with flying colours; he’s going to make his parents proud.
Max Walker has a terrible secret that could blow his perfect life apart. But someone knows his secret, someone close to him who could do great damage to Max. In fact he's already started…
©2013 Abigail Tarttelin (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd
Max is a teenager who, on the surface is the golden boy at school, but lurking behind his Y-fronts is a secret to all but his immediate family: Max is intersex, an hermaphrodite.
I don’t know where I heard this book being highly praised but I had many problems with it and can't believe all the plaudits and five stars.
- There’s a rape in the opening pages of this book. But the author refuses to mention the word rape once throughout the whole book. This seemed like a major cop out to me. I got the impression she was afraid to get into the “blurred lines” and call a rape a rape.
- There’s a 10-year-old boy in this book. And the author clearly knows no ten year olds and didn’t bother to check any out. The ten year old acts like a five year old throughout the book. There’s even a line where he’s whinging about "story time" in school. Story time! Ten year olds do not have story time. They read full novels on their own. This was so sloppy that it made me lose all confidence in the author. And then later on this 10 year old, who acts like a 5 year old, has these small bursts of intelligence that are way above his station. Wildly inconsistent.
And I have to say the whingey/whiney/childish narration of the 10 year old really sealed the deal for this character to ruin the book.
- There’s a part where a doctor suggests to Max that when he talks to himself in his head, it might actually be a unborn twin talking to him. I repeat, this was said by a doctor, a specialist. This is the kind of badly researched nonsense that popped up now and then.
- This really came across to me as a YA book. I’m constantly annoyed at hearing of a book getting really high praise, without mentioning the context of YA. In my experience YA books often lack depth, maturity, authenticity, and intelligence.
- I couldn’t help comparing this book to Middlesex. Which is such a better book in every way. Golden Boy is Middlesex-Lite. If you’re curious about the subject matter, do yourself a favour and read Middlesex instead.
Having said all that, even though I was often very frustrated, and driven demented by the 5-year-old 10-year-old, I was never bored, and at times I even found it to be a bit of a page turner. But this definitely doesn’t deserve the 5 stars everyone else is giving it. Abigail Tarttelin definitely has potential but she will be cringing at this book when she has a bit more experience under her belt.
The BEST. A story so beautifully told and compelling, I couldn't put it down.
The story told from various points-of-view gave significant depth to the thought processes of each character.
Max's story-line will always remain with me.
"The great puzzle of life"
What would you do if you had a child like Max? This theme is brilliantly explored in this tale of a young man struggling with a condition that makes him feel apart from the world. Max has reached the point in his life when he has to come to terms with himself but this is brought prematurely to the fore by a single brutal act of violence.
This book could have followed a predictable route but instead it is a thoughtful and fascinating exploration of a life almost ruined by the not always good intentions of others. There are no easy answers and it is hard to side with the two diametrically opposed parents. What holds this all together is the very wonderful Max. He is a true heartbreaker with the looks and achievements of a real Golden Boy but has such endearing qualities that I almost cried when awful things happen to him. This story may be grim at times but it is filled with hope and optimism and I thought it was really uplifting.
This really challenges the traditional views of gender, identity and how we fit into the great scheme of things. As one character says, 'we are really just ideas and when we die, the idea dies with us.'
This is a very good book and I can't believe the author is such a young woman. I really look forward to reading her future work.
"Absorbing and sometimes frustrating."
This book is about a subject I've only been vaguely aware of. I was interested because my own father is transgender and I have struggled with aspects of gender which most of us take for granted. We could all do with thinking about these subjects sometimes so that we become aware of our own preconceptions and assumptions.
Like the characters in books like The Casual Vacancy or The Slap these characters are flawed and at times frustrating to the reader. You sometimes want to shake them or shout at them to get them to sort themselves or those around them and to see things as they really are. It makes the book 'real' though and more human and believable.
I most enjoyed, strangely, the scene in the hospital when Max and his mum are caught in a very tense and fraught interaction. It was very moving, intense and full of suspense.
This book is best listened to in stages to allow you to absorb and digest the various revelations. The plot keeps you guessing and wanting more information but the intensity and rawness of certain parts needs a break.
A good book for thinking and testings ones presumptions. A novel topic for a book and rarely if ever considered.
"This has to be shared!"
Absolutely. This has been one of the most powerful and emotionally engaging books I have ever read or listened to.
I found it quite unique but probably akin to Room by Emma Donoghue and Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris. All letting you get deep into the heart and mind of characters experiencing real personal challenge.
One of the most amazing effects of the book is the way in which you became so emotionally linked to the characters that I found myself constantly having my own feelings towards every character changing throughout the plot ... with the exception of Max, his brother and their own touching relationship.
Can't wait for another work by Ms Tarttellin but not sure how she will top this work!
"Really enlightening- emotional and compelling"
I really enjoyed this book- the story was different and interesting - I loved the characters and the performance was excellent
"Very Interesting vulnerable journey"
Enjoyed being guided through the story by relatively good narration
Enjoyed following Max' journey, felt pained by his hesitency in young love and really enjoyed his relationship and guidence towards his younger brother
Odd one out......or is he?
Don't generally leave comments however I did enjoy this book and felt compeled to.
"Essential reading for a difficult topic"
There a lots of reviews about this book but I hadn't read any reviews. Please read this books and encourage all others to read this too. This is an excellent put together audiobook which I listened to this over a matter of a few days. The different readers added the an interesting dimension.
I havent got to the end yet but this book will remain with me for a long time.
The different readers
The rape scene is very graphic and I so wanted to fast forward. Not sure if I am entirely comfortable.
"A gripping story told by great narrators."
One of my all time favourites.
The multiple narrators really bring the story to life. There's a particularly harrowing scene that is performed so well - it really made me empathise with the character. Having male and female narrators felt vitally important in this book because the book is told from the point of view of different people. It wouldn't work as well with just my inner voice.
The book really gave me an understanding and insight into Max's condition, the story really made me connect with him. I felt his confusion and shock.
"A funny and poignant look at being 'different'"
I'd noticed the author is relatively young when I set out listening, so I was expecting the 'yoof' tone and language (which felt natural and authentic) but I didn't expect such deft story-telling! Several times I felt we'd crested the narrative wave and I feared my interest was bound to peter out soon. But no, some new fascinating angle on the story would appear and carry me off yet again.
My only frustration with the audiobook is with the editing, or perhaps it would be called the production? I'm not sure. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one character, so the chapters are announced by name. "Max", for example. But sometimes the chapter 'announcements' run into the previous chapter. So I found myself engrossed in some bit of the story, then suddenly the word "Max" is said, confusingly out of context. (Did Max just walk into the room?) I only noticed it a handful of times, but it disrupted my listening flow hugely! Sorry, it's a small point made incoherently. But a bit of feedback for the audiobook producers. The narration itself (four narrators, I think) is terrific and nicely understated. Acting the voice role of a younger child can make for cringe-inducing listening, but the combination of the authentic voice in the writing and excellent narration makes Daniel's character work well, as do all the others.
We need more fiction about gender subtleties. This is a thoughtful book where there are no right 'answers'. But anything that encourages us to see shades of grey, to ponder the different points of view, to put ourselves in all kinds of interesting shoes - well, it's just great. That's not to say this is a 'worthy' book; it's about people who are funny, kind, human, thoughtless - just human, really. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is dealing with the frustrations with society's handling of gender. And I'd recommend it even more to anyone who doesn't think they're affected by gender issues. In fact, forget gender issues: this book is a deliciously funny and poignant look at coping with being perceived as 'different'. And we *all* are 'different', thank goodness.
"Moving, amazing, uplifting gem"
This is possibly the most inspiring, moving book I have listened to on Audible and I highly recommend it. This novel by young writer Abigail Tartellin is an unexpected gem and over a few days of listening I became completely immersed in the lives of Max and his family. I knew nothing about intersex before listening to this book and feel that the author explored it and conveyed the information in a hugely empathetic and informative way without losing sight of plot or characterisation.
Perhaps one of the most amazing things about this novel is its ability to surprise. I did not know what to expect when I started listening and was constantly surprised throughout the book. There is a very disturbing and upsetting scene at the beginning of the book but don't let this put you off listening as I feel that it is crucial to the story that follows and our understanding of the amazing Max.
The use of multiple narrators works fantastically for this book. I particularly liked the voice of Max, although do feel that Antonia Beamish's narration let down an otherwise 5 star listen.
"Unusual and Intriguing"
Seveal things1) The subject at the heart was unusual and offered insights into a condition I knew little about2) Four really good narrators whose voices fitted the characters
Without doubt The Golden Boy
Ditto - I loathed his self-centred mother
Boy Meets Girl...
It was good to read a book with a strong narrative thread that felt more a natural story, rather than manufactured, even thoughit was. I felt I could get into Golden Boy's head, I felt I could have been him. Altogether a very rewarding experience.
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