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Golden Boys

by Sonya Hartnett

Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2016
238 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7949-1

14 and older

Colt Jenson, 12, and his family are unusual new arrivals in a working-class Australian neighborhood. Colt’s dad, whom Colt despises for reasons that aren’t wholly clear initially, is a dentist. Colt and his little brother have tons of cool toys and gear and their dad is friendly and welcoming to their new friends, encouraging them to hang out. Twelve-year-old Freya’s dad is a printer whose arrival home each evening is a taut time as everyone in her family tries to determine how much he’s drunk and how dangerous his mood will be. Freya, the oldest of six, finds herself confiding in Mr. Jenson, who offers a kind, sympathetic, non-judgmental ear. So when Freya’s brother Declan says Mr. Jenson is “weird” and won’t let their younger brother go over to Colt’s alone, Freya is furious at what he’s clearly implying. But readers know what Colt means: Mr. Jenson’s friendliness feels wrong. It’s too physical, too much. Colt knows, too, because it’s happened before: his dad entices his friends. The trauma and tension are palpable in a novel brutally honest, right down to the ways in which adults look away from uncomfortable truths. This uneasy read is exquisitely written. The complexity of these characters, both children and adults, is something to behold in a novel originally published for adults in Australia. (Age 14 and older)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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