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Golden Child by Claire Adam

Literary fiction

Golden Child

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Claire Adam, on your first book!

by Claire Adam

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Quick take

A tale of two Caribbean twins—one a source of family pride, the other of shame—and the small betrayals that will alter their lives forever.

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  • Illustrated icon, Heavy_Read

    Heavy read

  • Illustrated icon, Sad

    Sad

  • Illustrated icon, International

    International

  • Illustrated icon, Literary

    Literary

Synopsis

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, 13 years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.

When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn't come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul's fate, his world shatters—leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Golden Child.

Golden Child

Part One

I

Only Trixie is at the gate when he pulls up. She is sitting on her haunches staring at something across the road, her forelegs planted in front of her, solid as tree-stumps. Probably an iguana, Clyde thinks, or an agouti, judging by the look on her face. He glances in that direction as he yanks the handbrake up but can’t see what she might be looking at. There is only bush over there on that side of the road: bush all the way down to the river, and then more bush, until you get to the cocoa plantations. The leaves are shiny with the little rain that just fell, the asphalt road steaming. As he walks down to the gate, he pulls off his T-shirt, wipes the sweat from his face, the back of his neck.

He had a little wash before he left work, but the smell of the industrial estate still clings to him—it is in his hair, his clothes, the creases of his joints. “Oil-smell,” people call it, or “petrochemical smell,” if they are better informed. Today, Clyde knows, he smells of grease, ammonia, and rotten eggs, because he spent the afternoon going round the plant with the engineer, sealing off valves, hauling open chambers, collecting samples in little plastic bags, and then closing back the chambers and opening valves again. Usually, he would have been wearing a blue coverall instead of his own clothes, and he would have showered at the plant before he left. But since the break-in a few weeks ago, he’s switched to daywork—just as a temporary measure—so that he can be at home with Joy and the boys during the night. It doesn’t pay as well as shifts, but Joy says she feels safer with him in the house.

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Why I love it

The moment I read the first page of Claire Adam’s astonishing debut, it was obvious to me that I was experiencing a truly gifted writer telling a story about a place intimately known to her. By the last, utterly heartbreaking page, I knew I needed to share this book with as many people as possible. Golden Child is an emotional and page-turning story of scarcity, sacrifice, and betrayal set against the beautiful but precarious backdrop of rural Trinidad.

As the head of a family surviving and struggling to succeed against powerful odds, Clyde Deyalsingh is a father determined to raise his teenage sons well. But his twins could not be more different: Peter is a promising boy with a bright future ahead of him, and Paul is somewhat slow and strange. When one of the sons is kidnapped after a break-in, Clyde finds himself overwhelmed by forces terribly beyond his control, and he’s faced with choices no parent should ever have to make.

With unerring insight, Claire accesses the deepest fears and pains of having, and belonging to, a family; of all the unspoken dread a parent carries and negotiates with. In the same way that the Trinidadian landscape is simultaneously lovely and treacherous, Golden Child is a book that is at once gorgeous and unsettling, achieving the kind of breathless emotional resonance that we treasure in our most beloved stories.

Claire brings a singular familiarity and affection for Trinidad and its people to this remarkable debut. She has given us an unforgettable story, and I am honored to be able to share it with you.

Member ratings (2,400)

  • Lucy A.

    Ayer, MA

    Wow. One of the most thought provoking and powerful books I’ve ever read. I couldn’t stop thinking about this. The whole book was good, but average. And then the ending hit you like a ton of bricks.

  • Melissa P.

    Onalaska, WI

    I didn’t like it because it was hard to read. But I loved it because it was hard to read. Having to choose one child? Knowing that you can only push one forward? It’s not uncommon. So heartbreaking.

  • Abby M.

    Buxton, ND

    When I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read this story. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that not everyone is as fortunate in the world as us, but it made me grateful for where I am. Beautifully told!

  • Makhimba S.

    Honolulu, HI

    I was born and raised in Trinidad. The authors portrayal of the setting and culture was amazing, down to the dog’s names. Aside from that this story is deeply unsettling and made me question humanity

  • Albert V.

    Brooklyn, NY

    Golden Child is beautiful. The writing subtly sweeps you in, like an unexpected tide in Trinidad waters. GC is bound by rich themes of family, fatherhood, brotherhood, sacrifice, and evil. A must read

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The Lady Waiting
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Shark Heart
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Hello Beautiful
Dominicana
What's Mine and Yours
The Unsettled
Ask Again, Yes
Vladimir
Infinite Country
The Prophets
Normal People
The Verifiers
Salvage the Bones
The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
I Have Some Questions for You
Black Buck
The History of Love
Age of Vice
Paper Names
The Light Pirate
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Memorial
The Half Moon
Happiness Falls
The Gifted School
The Death of Vivek Oji
The Knockout Queen
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Yerba Buena
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The Mothers
The Water Dancer
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The Sympathizer
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Woman No. 17
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