Harper 360

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The Golden Child – Wendy James

Published July 22, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Can bad children happen to good mothers? A totally absorbing novel, for readers of Liane Moriarty, Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas.

Blogger Lizzy’s life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness …
Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth’s clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.
This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Harper 360, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers for sending me a copy of this fascinating novel in exchange for an honest review. When the call for reviewers went up on Twitter, I was hugely grateful for my good blogger friend, Janel @ Keeper Of Pages tagging me in the post for as soon as I had read the synopsis, I instantly knew it was something I had to get on board with. I was intrigued by the idea of a narrative that focuses on the intensity of friendships between young adolescents and the all too prevalent rise of cyber bullying with its devastating effects. I have to be honest and admit I did see “what was coming,” but it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the story in the slightest. It was still a compelling read and I found the bullying part in particular was handled both deftly and sensitively by the author.

Wendy James, author of The Golden Child.

Not only does the female lead in this story share my first name, she also shares my hobby and of course, that’s blogging. This book seemed like the perfect fit and I was eager to get started, especially as I feel so passionately about the toll bullying can have on a person – unfortunately, I speak from multiple personal experiences. This is the story of Beth, who uproots her family, including two daughters (one on the border of adolescence, one adolescent) back to her home country of Australia from America where the girls grew up in order to give them all a better life. Once the girls are enrolled in school, it’s not long before the tension starts to rise. Enter the world of cliques, the nature of popularity, how it feels to be an outsider and horrifyingly, how the Internet and social media can use a person’s insecurities against themselves in the worst ways with potentially life-altering consequences.

Newcastle, Australia where the Mahony family move to begin their new lives.

As with most of these books, saying any more would definitely be giving away some spoilers for the novel and you already know I’m not one to do that, right? Let me just say the author has astutely captured what it’s like to be a teenage girl when fitting in and having people “like” you seems to be the only thing worth worrying about in your life. I remember those days so well. I attended boarding school for six years in Scotland whilst my parents were in Germany. My dad was in the army and we moved around every three years so they thought sending me away to school would be a more stable environment for my studies. As you might be able to imagine, I didn’t have the best time there and it was difficult, my mum being in a foreign country, I couldn’t just go home at the end of the day for a hug and get away from it all.

This is where The Golden Child really spoke to me. I felt the pain of the girl who was being victimised so intensely and can only thank my lucky stars social media wasn’t a thing when I was at school, I’m not sure in all honesty if I would have survived my years there emotionally intact! Then there are the bullies, the Queen Bees, the Mean Girls that everyone fawns over and begs their approval – I saw so much of people I have known in these girls but also, to try and approach it from a different angle, could see how seemingly innocent jibes could get so badly out of control. Sometimes, I really don’t believe bullies realise the repercussions of their actions or how it might affect a person right the way through their life and more certainly needs to be done to try and educate people about why this sort of thing is NOT okay.

As I alluded to in the opening paragraph of my review, unfortunately I did see where this story was going and although that was a bit of a shame, I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this novel to anyone interested in the topic, particularly in how extreme and suffocating adolescence can feel for each child going through it. It was a hard-hitting, extremely necessary read and the author approached this rather thorny(but VERY relevant) issue absolutely beautifully.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):