With their father, there's always a catch . . .
Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian have moved to a new, working-class suburb. The Jensons are different. Their father, Rex, showers them with gifts - toys, bikes, all that glitters most - and makes them the envy of the neighbourhood.
To Freya Kiley and the other local kids, the Jensons are a family from a magazine, 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?
Sonya Hartnett's novel for adults is an unflinching and utterly compelling work from one Australia's finest writers.
'Golden Boys has a line-by line brilliance that is startling ... [Hartnett] is one of Australia's most penetrating analysts of the travail and turmoil of families, especially as witnessed and suffered by the young.' Weekend Australian
'Sonya Hartnett is that rarest and most precious of writers: a reverse Peter Pan.' Saturday Paper
'A web in which it is a pleasure to become entangled.' Saturday Paper
'Succinct and vivid.' The Age
'A fine portrait of the charming predator.' West Australian
'An absorbing, fiercely elegant and tangibly believable novel that raises questions about our responsibility to bear witness - and details the complex obstacles to doing so.' Australian Book Review
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Prolific Australian writer Sonya Hartnett captures the eeriness of childhood with Golden Boys, a luminous and unsettling tale set in the forced normalcy of the suburbs. Interlocking the stories of a group of children whose lives collide, Hartnett writes masterfully about her young characters’ flickering awareness of the hypocrisies, lies and threats that riddle the grown-up world. As the novel picks up steam, the tension and emotional resonance build to a pulse-racing crescendo.
When the affluent Jensons move into town, it's difficult for the neighborhood children to see past the allure of the fancy toys, bikes, and aboveground pool that sons Colt and Bastian have. Syd Kiley, his brother Declan, and their friends Avery and Garrick befriend the new boys, while Syd's oldest sister, Freya, takes a shine to Mr. Jenson, idolizing this more attractive counterpart to her own drunken father and chaotic family. It's clear that unhappiness simmers beneath the surface in this neighborhood, with everyone believing that "the things they don't want are all they have." But similarities exist between these disparate individuals, and as Hartnett's narrative methodically unfolds, lurking secrets reveal themselves, with many children paying the price for their parents' failings. Writing in an Australian vernacular and alternating among the perspectives of Colt, Freya, and Syd, Hartnett (Butterfly) skillfully weaves metaphors and foreshadowing into her affecting prose, such as Freya's view of the world as a castle to explore, and her darker vision of a haunting yellow-eyed monster. Hartnett's examination of different forms of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse is an unsettling, often brutal must-read. Ages 14 up.