“Golden Child” by Claire Adam follows the family of twin boys in Trinidad as money eventually rips the family apart. The story feels slow at times, but at the end when seeing the story in its entirety, it’s well-told exploring the haves and have nots within the family.
The story opens up to Clyde looking for his teen son, Paul. Clyde is trying to gather support from the neighbors to see where his son has gone. Paul has been told he’s mentally disabled because he lost oxygen during his birth. His twin brother, Peter, is the opposite, considered very bright and reasonable. Their doctor uncle, Uncle Vishnu, who was present at their birth, is the one who diagnoses these differences between Peter and Paul. As a doctor, Uncle Vishnu, invests in Peter’s education. Clyde fights to keep Paul with Peter in school though Paul is slow. Uncle Vishnu is the biological uncle of Joy, Clyde’s wife and mother to Peter and Paul. Joy also has a brother named Romesh, who has good jobs, and Philip, a famous judge. But there’s jealousy of why Uncle Vishnu financially supports Clyde and his family, the only ones who live in a very modest home, especially with Peter having the potential to leave the island for the pursuit of education and success.
With the story opening to a search for a character, the search feels longer than it should be until the story gets into the history of why Paul went missing. There are point-of-view issues with the beginning mostly belonging to Clyde then hopping to Paul to Peter to the brothers’ teacher, Father Kavanaugh. Some sentences may take a second to realize the point-of-view is not pointing to the right character. It’s just interesting how the point-of-view changes and why it changes because at times it felt like it didn’t need to change or the situation should’ve been told by another character.
The emphasis on the difference between the twin brothers is reminiscent of Abraham Verghese’s “Cutting For Stone,” especially with parallels of following a family of Indian descent in Trinidad where Verghese’s book is on a family of Indian descent in Ethiopia. The differences between the brothers are so heightened throughout the book, but the reader may pick up that there may be nothing wrong with Paul; he acts the way he does because he’s been told his whole life that something’s wrong with him. Paul’s actions propel the jealousy bubbling within the extended family that Clyde and Joy never put much attention on.
Overall, this story punctuates one of the main issues that tear families apart: money. And also shows how some are concerned with the money while others don’t see the concern, which could lead to a troubling sequence of events. It’s a good book for readers who enjoy literary fiction taking place in a country and focusing on a culture underrepresented in books.