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?
There is something rather haunting but oddly familiar about both the characters and the story of The Golden Child which left me speechless and almost in tears. However, beyond my own personal reaction to finishing this novel (though brought on by personal experience, having done my first three years of high school at an all girls school, it was something quite possibly close to an overreaction), I am lost as to where to begin.
Wendy James has created a pretty much accurate reflection of the mentality of girls in high school school, and how the ‘top gang’ carries more than just power over the rest of the cohort, but also sets the standard for which others have to meet to even be respected. However there are some details which didn’t quite fit with the ‘modern queen bee’ person. Things like the pop culture references which were more aligned with those girls who in my experience never made it in the ‘cool’ group, and so felt quite out of place within the darker tones of the novel.
Throughout the events which unfold in the body of the novel are blog posts by the mother in the family which the story follows, and the unidentified ‘Golden Child’. These posts provide both contrast and context for the horrible occurrences surrounding the youngest daughter’s ‘gang’. Cleverly written, The Golden Child has a rather sinister undertone which is reflected in both the actions of every family involved, as well as in the blogs and their comments.
Though I picked the shocking, and almost heartbreaking twist quite early, it didn’t stop me from questioning not only the main group characters motives within the novel but the side characters too. James brings into question how well you know both yourself and those around you, even those you are closest to, especially when it comes to one’s online persona.
The Golden Child is a gripping yet haunting read which will keep you guessing and bring into question not only the characters in the novel but the people you know in your own life as well. Cleverly written and plotted, this is definitely worth reading and persevering with for any fans of a domestic thriller. Though I found the ending to be well rounded it left me shaking, so I can’t quiet guarantee that it will leave you with a feeling of warmth that you probably want when finishing a novel.