That dangerous bully is not our child - is she?

Can bad children happen to good mothers?

The Golden Child, by Wendy James, answers that question in the affirmative. The Golden Child knows how to get what she wants, and goes ahead and gets it. It’s really a lesson in sibling rivalry taken to the extreme.

The first part of our story is told through the eyes of Beth, the mother of two daughters. Beth has put her own career on hold to go with her husband to America. She cannot have an American work visa, but this gives her extra time to devote to her daughters and involve herself in the expat social scene. Beth has an online blog where she shares her not-so-dramatic rather-mundane life events with her followers, who are mainly members of the expat community.

The story starts with an incident caused by one of Beth’s daughters at their school which raises her some concerns. This is very quickly overtaken by the news that Beth’s husband has a transfer home to Australia, and Beth is kept busy organising the move back home.

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The story gathers pace when the family return to Australia. They move to Newcastle and enrol the girls at a private school. The transition into their new school and life in Australia holds challenges for both girls, as they plan ways to be accepted into their new social structure. The story is picked up by a new friend from school and her mother, who provide some insight into the lives of teenage girls.

I enjoyed the writing style of the novel, where the story was taken up from different points of view. Running parallel to this is Beth’s blog and another blog by an unknown author. At the end of the story, the unknown author is revealed.

The story displays the sinister side of social media and cyberbullying, as well as taking the reader on a journey with Beth. Having been out of the workforce for many years, Beth wants to get her career up and running again. She is urged forward by her own mother, feels the disapproval of her mother-in-law, and longs for more encouragement from her husband and daughters.

Most readers will be able to identify with her struggles. When the final blow is dealt to Beth through her realisation of the true nature of one of her daughters, she questions herself on how it has come to this.

The Golden Child, by Wendy James, is available in paperback and digital formats from Harper Collins Publishers.