Thank you NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: With their father there’s always a catch…
Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian, have moved to a new, working-class suburb. The Jensens are different. Their father, Rex, showers them with gifts–toys, bikes, all that glitters most–and makes them the envy of the neighborhood.
To Freya Kiley and the other local kids, the Jensens are a family out of a movie, and Rex a hero–successful, attentive, attractive, always there to lend a hand. But to Colt he’s an impossible figure in a different way: unbearable, suffocating. Has Colt got Rex wrong, or has he seen something in his father that will destroy their fragile new lives?
Golden Boys is a tale of two very dysfunctional families, seen through the eyes of their children. The story takes place in Australia during the late 1970s or early 1980s. This isn’t a book that is action packed from beginning to end. Yet while the pacing is slow, especially in the beginning, that doesn’t make the narrative any less compelling. Seeing the events that unfold from the perspective of the children, makes an already disquieting story deeply personal. Sonya Hartnett deftly captures that childlike innocence we all had at some point. I think the strongest passages are from Freya and Colt who are the oldest, and are both put in the unspeakable position of staying quiet about their fathers’ actions or revealing secrets long kept hidden. Nothing that happens is too graphically told, which in a way makes it even more menacing. It’s also a reminder that sometimes monsters need not be supernatural in nature, and that they can hide behind the most ordinary and benign of facades. None of the adults walk away from this smelling like roses. Both fathers are despicable and vile, and the mothers are your stereotypical enablers. This might have been a problem but in the end it’s not because the children are so brilliantly written, and after all, in the end this is their story. The only reason why I haven’t given this 5 stars is because I hated the ending. I thought it was much too abrupt and it left me a bit frustrated. Overall though I found Golden Boys to be a hauntingly beautiful and evocative novel and I think it would be a perfect pick for a teen or adult book discussion group. It’s an unsettling story that will linger in your mind long after you’ve finished.