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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Hyena Boy is a work of fiction in the young adult/new adult coming of age sub-genre and was penned by author Ila Golden. Forming another part of the Neva Aton Collection, we examine the life of another young man from the same central friendship group and the challenges he has to deal with as he continues his journey from boy to man. In this volume, we meet Jay Peters, who has experienced a harrowing life so far living under the roof of his father. At seventeen, Jay will be able to move out, so he begins the task of chronicling his life up to date in order to put it all away and start afresh, alone in the adult world.
The work contains some sensitive content such as abuse, violence, sex, and language, but I find that author Ila Golden uses it to recount an authentic teenage experience, particularly of life in the late 1960s. The period feels apt for Jay’s struggles before the watchful eyes of social workers popped up everywhere and times were physically harder. Golden evokes a beautiful sense of emotional atmosphere through the descriptions of both place and person, and the close narration allows us an intimate portrayal of Jay’s mental state as he prepares to cut the ties which bind him to his past experiences. What results is a sweeping and evocative book with some beautifully intimate moments, and I would definitely recommend Hyena Boy to readers seeking deep and meaningful coming of age fiction.