Book Talk – GOLDEN BOY by Tara Sullivan

My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won’t find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could’ve been better or what worked or didn’t work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it’s here I probably think it won’t injure your brain if you read it.

Habo has never been accepted, not by the villagers he lives with, and not by his own family. An albino in Africa, his father left soon after he was born, believing him to be the bastard son of a white man. His older brothers resent the skin condition that makes him burn easily, which means his only chore is to watch the family goat grazing under the shade tree, while they toil in hot coffee fields. Even his mother jumps when he enters a room unexpectedly, as if she’s seen a ghost.

The family farm is failing, which sends them all into the arms of distant family living in an urban area. Living removed from society means they have no idea that albino body partys have become a hot commodity in the black magic market. Albino skin, teeth, and hair can all fetch high prices. But most valuable are Habo’s legs, which supposedly will bring great wealth to a mine if one is set on each side of the entrance.

A local ivory hunter who helped them cross the Serengeti knows the value of Habo’s body. Although they try to hide him, Habo knows he is more useless now than ever. While his very presence is a danger to his brothers and sister, he is unable to work at all or even be seen in the streets. Tired of being a weight, Habo sneaks away one night in the hopes of reaching a part of the country where albinos are not killed for their very skin.

Days of journeying on foot brings Habo to the compound of a blind sculptor who cannot see Habo’s oddly colored skin. After one evening of sharing supper, Habo is offered a bed for the evening. Days turn into weeks and Habo finds himself learning how to sculpt,  seeing shapes in wood that he can free with a knife… and learning to unsee his own skin as what defines him.

3 thoughts on “Book Talk – GOLDEN BOY by Tara Sullivan

  1. Deb – it is, but it's also appropriate for MG readers and not detailed on violence. Habo learning to accept himself is very well done and again, on a good MG level. Unfortunately the entire story is based on a very true human rights crisis going on right now in parts of Africa.

  2. Golden Boy is a great read. And despite the 'challenging' subject matter, it is not a sad or depressing read at all. Rather it is a fun adventure, and focuses on overcoming the labels placed on us by society (or by ourselves.) If you want to learn more — check out The Asante Mariamu Foundation, an Arlington Virginia based small but very effective nonprofit that provides direct assistance to kids and adults with albinism in East Africa. Please check them out at

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