"Golden Child" (SJP for Hogarth), by Claire Adam
A new novel set in Trinidad spins the tale of an absorbing family drama that ultimately explores the tension between individualism and utilitarianism.
Claire Adam's debut novel, "Golden Child," is a page-turner not by dint of cliffhangers but because a reader becomes invested in the well-developed story and richly drawn characters, heightened by a baseline tension established in the first pages. Adam creates a strong sense of place to fully transport a reader to the sights, smells and sounds of rural Trinidad.
The story begins with the unknown whereabouts of Paul, the younger twin son of the Deyalsingh family and the one historically to cause much of the parental heartache. The older twin, Peter, is the titular golden child — pegged at an early age as a genius. Shifting back and forth in time, the story pieces come together like a puzzle. When the narrative shifts to Paul's perspective, a third of the way in, this character who is much discussed and dissected suddenly has a chance to show readers how he really is and the effect is jarring and tragic.
By the end, it becomes hard not to question well-meaning characters and their resolute adherence to their guiding principles — prioritizing family, emphasizing education — which are seemingly uncontroversial but ultimately contribute to the central crisis the family faces.
"Golden Child" is a beautiful and haunting tale, one that leaves readers thinking long after the last page has been turned.