Golden Child is the story of the Deyalsingh family, twins Peter and Paul and their parents, Joy and Clyde. They are an Indian family living in Trinidad, an island off Venezuela where there is a large Indian population since the 19th century. When the twins were born, the doctor said that it was likely Paul suffered brain damage from apoxia. It is presented as a possibility but accepted as definitive, so when Paul is frightened at a hair-cutting ceremony, it’s seen as a sign of his developmental disability. This expectation of failure is repeated constantly, leaving Paul inhibited by anxiety so he freezes up when asked questions in school. It’s possible, even likely given the evidence of the story, that he maybe had dyslexia exponentiated by false expectations of failure.
His twin Peter, on the other hand, is brilliant, excelling in everything. Early on, the children’s grandfather decreed that Peter would be brilliant and excel in school so well he could go to Oxford or Harvard. That became Clyde’s lifelong burden, to save enough to send Peter to school. The family did without many things to that end though Joy insists they brothers stay together so Peter can help Paul which he gladly does.
The miracle of the story is Peter and Paul love each other as brothers and do not blame each other for their parents’ attitudes.
Then one evening Paul disappear and the family faces difficult, nearly impossible choices that are freighted by the thirteen-year history of expectations.
Golden Child is a story to break your heart. While it may seem to be a story about these young boys, it really is the story of Clyde and his burdens. Our perspective jumps from Clylde to Paul and Dr. Kavanaugh. While Peter may be the family’s “golden child” Paul is the linchpin of the story. What happens when one child is so favored and the other not? Does it mean his parents love him less? What does it do to a father to invest everything in only one child?
Adam does an excellent job of painting a picture of the community, the family, and the individuals. The adults are more complicated than the children, but then they usually are in life, too. The sense of place is strong and effective. The plot drew me in quickly and even though the things that happen organic and natural results of the environment Adam created, they were not predictable.