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When the Jenson family moves into a working-class suburb of Melbourne the local children are enthralled by the father, Rex, a dentist who spoils them with attention, gifts and a swimming pool. Freya Kiley and her brothers spend time there, escaping from their own drunken father. But underlying the fun is the murky, disquieting question of what brings the middle-class Jensons there and why they seem less content than they should. Some of the boys, including Rex’s eldest son Colt, grow increasingly uncomfortable as power games and tensions build.
Sonya Hartnett gives Golden Boys her characteristic structural clarity, emotional subtlety and precise physicality. Moving between the adolescent viewpoints of Freya and Colt, while maintaining a supple third-person narration, the writing is a prism that reveals multiple attractions, needs and dangers. Hartnett is masterful at capturing the metamorphosis from child to adult with all its vulnerability and strength.