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Golden Boys

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,161 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
With their father, there’s always a catch…

Colt Jenson and his younger brother, Bastian, have moved to a new, working-class suburb. The Jensons are different. Their father, Rex, showers them with gifts—toys, bikes, all that glitters most—and makes them the envy of the neighborhood.

To Freya Kiley and the other local kids, the Jensons are a family out of a movie, and Rex a he
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Candlewick Press (first published August 16th 2014)
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Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, aus-nz, starred-2016, ya, 4
Calling this book YA is a real stretch. If you call Golden Boys YA, you can as well call Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden YA. Both are told from POV's of children, in the case of this book - 10-13 year old kids from two messed up families, but there is no real YA/children's content in them. Golden Boys captures that distinct phase in children's lives when they start to understand the world around them better, and specifically, realize that their parents are flawed, often criminally flawed. Once th ...more
I had looked forward to this for some time. I listened to the audio version, very well read by the narrator, David Vatousios. I came across it during my library studies and wrote a blurb having not read it.

I quite like time frames that are assumed, but not mentioned specifically. This one would be in the 1980's, in the suburbs of Australia. Bikes, skateboards, and swimming in the summer should be a glorious time.

A new family moves into the area, with shiny toys and the best of everything. The
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Golden Boys is a look at two neighbouring families, the Jensen’s and Kiley’s through the eyes of their children.

The Kiley’s is a large family of six children, not financially well off and cramped into a small suburban home - which 13-year-old Freya Kiley is starting to resent. She feels their confined space and the babies her mother continues to have is the cause of her fathers’ furious rampages. The atmosphere is tense and bleak, and the Kiley children find refuge roaming the streets. But when
Freya Kiley was twelve years old – she was the eldest of her siblings of which there were five. They all lived in a little cottage with their mother Elizabeth and father Joe, very poor, surviving one week to the next on the minimal of necessities. So when Freya met the new family in their area, the Jensons, after church one Sunday – father Rex and sons Bastian and Colt, she knew there was something different about them.

Declan and Syd, Freya’s younger brothers, were old enough to spend time away

A new family, the Jensons has moved into a working class neighbourhood. Their two boys, Colt and Bastian have lots of toys; shiny new toys bought by their seemingly doting father. No one knows why the wealthy Jensons have come to live in their suburb, but they are friendly and welcome the local kids in to share their toys and swim in their pool. Colt and Bastian's father, Rex is particularly welcoming and is kindly and attentive to the kids, something they are not used to from their own Dads.

Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
My View:
Evil lurks under the surface.

A book that slowly draws you into its grasp into a time of childhood innocence, of BMX bikes and playing in the local storm water drain, of BBQ’s with the neighbours… a time when kids could be adventurers and start to develop their own identity and work out their place in the world. However all is not quite what it seems, the story told through the eyes of the children in the two families that are spotlighted in this narrative are wise for their age but have
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've said it a million times before and I'll probably say it another million times, Sonya Hartnett is an artist with words. I just love her books so much. They're so real yet also often devastating. Golden Boys, like usual, is just that little bit of a heavy read, in a good way. You wonder what's going to happen and you dread but delight in finding out. I've never read any other books quite so real. They dig in under my skin and don't let go until long after I've out the book down.
Christine Bongers
Brilliantly observed and menacing tale of the guilt that children bear for the actions of their parents. As always with Hartnett, a disturbing ending that stays long after the last page has been turned.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

When the affluent Jenson family move in to the neighborhood they quickly attract the attention of the local children. Colt and Bastian have a playroom full of toys, a swimming pool and a charismatic father, all of which they seem prepared to share. The Jenson home quickly becomes a haven for twelve year old Freya and the neighborhood boys, Avery, Garrick and brothers Syd and Declan, eager to escape their working class homes marred by violence, poverty and neglect, but before long the boys sense
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult-book
Although this book is marketed as adult fiction and is a must read for all teachers, it still could be a powerful text to both have in your school library and to use in class with students in years nine and upwards. Enjoy the reading then you’re sure to think about using it in an education context. For adults who have read Hartnett’s fiction before, the slowly emerging menace in the story is more easily felt. The “golden boys” are Colt, 12 and his younger brother Bastian, sons of their dentist f ...more
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
There is, I think, a moment in a child's life when they realize their parents aren't perfect, that they're just people - maybe not even good people - and make mistakes too. Some children realize this much earlier. Perhaps they have to watch as their father mistreats their mother or other signs of horrible behavior they should never have to witness.

Golden Boys was an interesting look at expectations of people and how families look from the outside compared to what they're actually like. There are
Dads, huh.

Many of Hartnett's stories involve bad dads - scary dads, violent dads, physically absent dads, emotionally absent dads...

With "Golden Boys" there's two bad dads for the price of one - as the book centres on the microcosm of the Jensons and the Kileys, whose children exist in an uneasy existence of uncertainty and shame.

The story is told through the kids - a collection of boys already practicing the hardness they'll need for uncomfortable lives as men and the incredible Freya, the comp
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
I absolutely loved this book.

Sonya Hartnett's writing is amazing - her portrayal of childhood in the 1970's is spot on and if you were a kid at this time you will be taken back to your friend's backyard swimming pool, every pedal of the bike, and the freedom of taking off for the day. Saying that, Golden Boys is not a feel-good novel where life is all sunshine, school and skateboards, this book has a dark undertone which slowly builds even though you have an inkling from the start where it's unf
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essentially a novel that emphasizes the sins of the father in respect to a son's penance, Golden Boys is a discomforting read about a small neighborhood and the subtleties that can be open to an array of interpretation. A new family moves to the area, the local kids meet the new kids, the parents are seen through the eyes of growing adolescents and suddenly adult fallibility becomes disappointingly clear.

It's a "is he or isn't he" sort of story that is disquieting and asks more questions than it
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Artful, tense and menacing. What lies beneath this tale is irksome and is written in Hartnett's trademark way of immersing the reader into the drama knowing that it's not going to be a comfortable journey right to the end.
Edward Sullivan
A brilliantly written, psychologically complex, emotionally piercing novel by a consummate storyteller. Subtle, tense and unsettling.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astonishingly beautiful writing, with a gracefulness that persists despite the creeping darkness of the plot.

Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“She has lost the faith she used to have in her mother and father. It’s obvious they can’t exert any meaningful control over the world. Once they ruled her life like gods, and in important ways, they still do: but it’s clear they can offer their offspring no protection against things becoming worse and worse”.

So beautifully written and short at a mere 237 pages. I was able to read this in a matter of hours. Beautiful & poignant, I couldn’t put it down.
Lizzy Chandler
There are some books I know, if I don't attempt to review them straightaway, I won't end up reviewing them at all. It's because the impact is so powerful, the language so beautiful, I grow afraid I won't do them justice. Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett is one of those books.

I picked up this novel not knowing what audience it was written for - the only other book by Hartnett I've read is a children's picture book. But this novel is no more suitable for children than Lord of the Flies. (Though I did
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘With their father, there’s always a catch: the truth is enough to make Colt take a step back.’

Two families are the focus of this novel, which is set in an outer suburb of Melbourne. The Kileys, with their six children, are long-term residents. The Jensons, with their two children, have just moved in. The older of the Jenson brothers is Colt, aged twelve. Colt used to be an athlete, but he doesn’t run anymore. Colt has shelves of statues - of golden boys - as a mute testimony to his past prowess
Carolyn Mck
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aww14

Sonya Hartnett writes books for children and about children for adults. She has a wonderful insight into the feelings, thoughts and behaviour of young children and those on the cusp of adulthood. Perhaps this is because she grew up in a fairly impoverished family of six, not unlike the Kiley family of this novel.

However, there is no indication from her profile ( that she suffered any physical and psychological abuse such as that inflicted on the Kiley children by their f
Golden Boys thrums with an underlying tension and a suspense that builds to it's unpredictable climax and achey ending. Hartnett's prose and plot are both tightly written, every scene moving the story forward, many interactions worded so perfectly I felt as if I was eavesdropping in on real lives. I loved the 70's setting ~ a child of the 80's myself, it didn't feel too far different from my own childhood roaming of the neighbourhood. The novel is narrated by the 10-13 year old neighbourhood kid ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrea by: Mish
My first Sonya Hartnett novel. What lovely writing! She really took me back to those hot, quiet, endless summers of my childhood, when we were allowed to roam from dawn till dusk, provided we turned up for meals.

The story itself was ok, delivering pretty much what was promised in the blurb. Although for a while there I had this real sense of foreboding that something much, much worse was going to happen to my favourite character, almost-13yo Freya.

I look forward to reading more by this author.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Early in this thorny coming-of-age story, 11-year-old Declan Kiley persuades the neighbourhood bully, Garrick, to hit him instead of going after the smaller and more vulnerable Avery. At first Garrick is doubtful, but Declan convinces him "[a] punch is a punch", and eventually Garrick obliges.

At key moments in Golden Boys, people attempt to make things right by taking on punishments that might more justly be served on others. Their success or otherwise is just one of the engines driving this suc
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 4.5

Sonya Harnett's latest release is a quietly menacing tale, telling the story of a group of working class kids and one very charismatic, but not-quite-nice adult. Set in an unnamed Australian suburb during the 1970s, we meet the Kiley's, a large, working class Catholic family and the Jenson's--a new family in town with a dad who comes across as slippery, but quite charismatic. Rounding out the Kiley and Jenson kids--Freya, Declan and Syd Kiley (and their younger siblings,) and Co
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sonya Hartnett's Golden Boys is a novel of simmering tensions. Set in a sleepy small town, a new family, the Jensons, arrives and on the surface they seem perfect. Rex and Tabby and their boys Colt and Bastian (great names) have a clean, beautiful home and the boys have all the toys and games any child could want. But Colt lives his life on a knife edge, sick of his father and the way he ingratiates himself into the lives of others, particularly the other kids of the neighbourhood. Enter their n ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Tough subject matter with no easy answers, no answers at all, really.

A wealthy family moves in to a not so wealthy Australian neighborhood, I’m thinking the 1970’s though I don’t recall it specifying. Immediately, you’re introduced to twelve year old Colt, his little brother and their parents. There’s tension between Colt and his father, resentment, something’s off, the synopsis keeps this vague so I will, too, though early on you’ll have strong suspicions and an impending feeling of dread that
Jamie (Books and Ladders)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

This was alright. The writing was okay but very long winded and it kinda made all the different perspectives mesh and muddle together which made it difficult for me to read. I enjoyed seeing adult topics through the minds of children, but I knew what the "revelation" would be the first time we were in Colt's mind, like 5% into the story. And the ending left much to be desired. It is an okay read but not one I would n
Helen Stower
The plot of Golden Boys begins when a new family move into a working-class Australian suburb. The Jensons are different to the other families in the neighbourhood. They are wealthy and their house, mountains of toys and brand new swimming pool are the envy of all. Yet, from the very beginning, it is clear that the father, Rex, is not all that he seems.

The second family at the centre of the story is the Kileys, long-term residents of the neighbourhood. The Kileys house is the antithesis of the Je
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Play Book Tag: Golden Boys - Sonya Hartnett - ★★★★ 1 8 Oct 13, 2016 03:25AM  
DC Public Library: Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett 1 11 Jul 10, 2016 03:18PM  
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Sonya Hartnett (also works under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern) is, or was, something of an Australian child prodigy author. She wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen, and had it published at fifteen. Her books have also been published in Europe and North America. Her novels have been published traditionally as young adult fiction, but her writing often crosses the divide and is also en ...more
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“He's used to the freedom of neglect; he likes it.” 1 likes
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