If you are looking for a breathtaking story that has real, vulnerable characters and will make you cry, you need to read GOLDEN BOY. This book tells the story of Max, a teen boy who is absolutely perfect in every way. He is handsome, kind, athletic, and good in school. He is the perfect student, the perfect son, and the perfect brother. There is just one thing that makes Max a little different: he is intersex.
The only people in Max’s life who know he is intersex are his family and his close friend, Hunter. Max has never really thought very deeply about his being intersex because it hasn’t affected his outside life, and his mother and father almost never bring it up. However, a terrifying encounter forces Max into a situation where he must think about his being intersex in ways he never has before.
The book is told through multiple perspectives, including Max’s, and each has his or her own unique voice. Karen and Steve, Max’s mother and father, provide insight from the parental perspective. Sylvie, a girl who goes to Max’s schools, provides insight from his peers. Archie, Max’s doctor, provides a medical perspective on the story. Finally, Daniel, Max’s brother, shows a young child’s perspective.
Daniel is an adorable little brother, and seeing him rationalize the dark events in the book is one of the most gripping aspects of the story. Sylvie is an open-minded friend and love interest who helps shine light on some of the confusion intersex teenagers face when navigating their dating and sex lives. Max’s parents add a very interesting layer to the story because they each had differing opinions on what to do with Max’s gender when he was born.
There are not a lot of books in the young adult genre with intersex protagonists, so this book is a unique and welcome addition to the category. It tackles a lot of difficult issues very delicately, and does a great job of telling a coming-of-age story in which a teen boy struggles with and works towards accepting his intersexuality. The book is very emotional and Max is such an easy character to love, so it is hard to see him face so many hardships. As stated in the beginning of this review, this book will probably make you cry, but you’ll only do so because of how beautiful the story is and how much you love the characters. It is an absolute must-read.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- A School Library Journal Best Novel of 2013 and a winner in the 2014 Alex Awards
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 2012
- Middlesex by JeffreyEugenides, 2002
- I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver, 2019