“Golden Boy: A Novel” Abigail Tarttelin

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published May 21, 2013. Atria Books. 343 pp.

GoldenBoyThrough the use of alternating voices, readers learn the story of 16-year-old Max. When Max was born, he was diagnosed as being “intersex.” Since he has both male and female sex organs internally and externally, he’s spent his life feeling different. He has self identified as a male, wants to go out with females, but has a feminine look. Max’s condition has always been kept hushed up because both his parents are big-shot lawyers and in the public eye.

Max has always been the Golden Boy at school and at home as he’s loved by girls and guys alike. He’s even tempered, well behaved, handsome, and a great soccer player. He’s Mr. Popularity. What’s not to love? However, when he’s raped by a family friend and becomes pregnant, secrecy is the least of everyone’s worries. How can Max face his peers? What will they think? How can he explain being pregnant? Max doesn’t know who, or what, he is anymore. With his parents fighting over what to do, Max becomes more confused and lonelier than ever.

Tarttelin paints a realistic picture of a young teen boy who, faced with a life altering condition, does his best to cope. Reading “Golden Boy” brought more understanding of this condition, and helped me visualize the many issues faced by hermaphrodites in sports – especially women. Despite the very boring cover, mature teens, aged 14 and older, will learn much from Max.

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