Powerful and emotional, Golden Child is a novel that stays with you. Thank you so much Beth @ Biblobeth for securing a copy of this novel for me from the publisher.
Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.
When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters—leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.
Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, GOLDEN CHILD is both beautiful and unsettling; a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love.
Golden Child is the second novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint, SJP for Hogarth, and wow, I can understand why she chose it.
This is the first novel I have read set in Trinidad, and Adam has made it a location I want to return to literarily, and visit physically (because who doesn’t want a Caribbean holiday!?). In Golden Child, Adam, through the use of local dialect, and atmospheric storytelling, has created a vivid picture of Trinidadian living. I spoke to some fellow bookworms, living in Trinidad, who were also reading this novel, and they confirmed that the depiction of the island was spot on. With Adam growing up in Trinidad, you’d expect nothing less, but I have never been to the island so she could have taken extreme liberties, and I’d have been none the wiser, so it was nice to have it confirmed. Also, the inclusion of local dialect further brought this novel to life, because the words/narration must match the setting for full believability.
And that’s what this novel has in abundance, believability, so much so I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I first finished the novel, I was unsure of how I felt because it was a bit slow in places, and I didn’t like the portrayal of one particular bit, but there was no denying the emotional impact was long-lasting. Golden Child is silently powerful, you don’t even realise the effect it is having on you; the addressing of themes of family, and what is means to be a parent, are so strong, the questions raised may never leave you. That decision mentioned in the blurb, the one Clyde faces, his handling of it, powerful, powerful stuff!
Golden Child also address cultural attitudes to parenthood and masculinity, the beliefs held, and the actions influenced by these beliefs. Not to suggest this fictional family is typical of all Trinidadian families, no, not at all, but it does raise some food for thought about damaging attitudes.
As I sit here, and type this review, I wonder how I ever doubted all that this novel is because as I’m typing, I’m transported right back to the heart of this novel, the love and the pain, the betrayal and sacrifice, the unsettlement this novel caused within my heart. In a sense, the ending of this novel doesn’t give you enough return on the events that occur, which may frustrate some people and leave them with a longing to see more of the fallout. But, I feel the lack of a full conclusion is what kept it lingering in mind, wanting to know, pondering how certain characters may have been left feeling, rather than being told how they felt.
Clyde may not be a likable character, but he is a powerful central figure in this novel. As we get to know the nature of Joy, and the twins, the dynamics of this family are placed under a microscope, and things become intense. All at once, this novel is powerful, heartbreaking and atmospheric, while addressing important themes of family and parenthood.