Tue | Sep 17, 2019

New novel by Claire Adam tells haunting family tale

Published:Sunday | February 3, 2019 | 12:15 AM
‘Golden Child,’ a novel by Claire Adam.

A new novel set in Trinidad spins the tale of an absorbing family drama that ultimately explores the tension between individualism and utilitarianism.

Claire Adam’s debut novel, Golden Child, is a page-turner not by dint of cliffhangers, but because a reader becomes invested in the well-developed story and richly drawn characters, heightened by a baseline tension established in the first pages. Adam creates a strong sense of place to fully transport a reader to the sights, smells and sounds of rural Trinidad.

The story begins with the unknown whereabouts of Paul – the younger twin son of the Deyalsingh family, and the one historically to cause much of the parental heartache. The older twin, Peter, is the titular golden child — pegged at an early age as a genius. Shifting back and forth in time, the story pieces come together like a puzzle. When the narrative shifts to Paul’s perspective, a third of the way in, this character who is much discussed and dissected suddenly has a chance to show readers how he really, is and the effect is jarring and tragic.

By the end, it becomes hard not to question well-meaning characters and their resolute adherence to their guiding principles – prioritising family, emphasising education – which are seemingly uncontroversial but ultimately contribute to the central crisis the family faces.

Golden Child is a beautiful and haunting tale, one that leaves readers thinking long after the last page has been turned.