Tuesday, July 17, 2012

(98)Gold by Chris Cleave


Publication Date: July 3, 2012
Pages: 336

Every now and then you stumble across a book that is such an emotional read it leaves you feeling drained, yet exhilarated at the same time.  That would be Gold.

Gold is the story of two women cyclists, Kate and Zoe who met at the tender age of nineteen when they were trying out for a national training program for cyclists.  It has been twelve years since they first met and their bond is strong as ever,yet their friendship remains tenuous as they have competed against each other over the years.  A lot has happened over those years, there was the meeting of Jack Argall, a cyclist they both had their eye on.  There was the birth of Sophie, Kate and Jack's daughter.  And the diagnosis of Sophie's leukemia while they were all at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a diagnosis which forces Kate to drop out of the Olympics.  Now here it is 2012 and at the same time that Kate and Zoe are trying to qualify for the London games, Sophie is fighting the side effects of chemo.  As the book races at a breakneck speed to it's conclusion you come to understand that eight-year-old Sophie is not the only one in this story fighting for her life.   What will happen when the race is over?  Will they all be winners or will they all be losers? And will any of them win the Gold?

I was really surprised at how quickly I was sucked into the story of Zoe and Kate.  There is a lot of bouncing around in narration between Zoe and Kate, both past and present.  But not once did I feel lost and that "bouncing around" plays a critical part in understanding how Kate and Zoe came to be the women they are today.   But, to be honest, the heart of this novel belongs to Sophie. This sweet, tender, stubborn, bald-headed little girl who is a Star Wars fanatic. She is old enough (ie: mature enough) to understand how critical this training is for her mother to go to the Olympics, and she is acutely aware that she was the reason why her mother missed the last Olympics, so she tries to hide just how sick she is getting.  It is both admirable and heartbreaking at the same time.

Bottom line, this whole book is an emotional roller coaster, any avid sports fan understands the heart pounding anticipation as the competition heats up, but mix that with the heart pounding roller coaster that comes from having a sick child and you are sure to go through an entire box of Kleenex.  Also, be sure to read the Author's Note at the end,  it brought me to tears quicker than any other part of the book. The start of the 2012 Summer Olympics is less than two weeks away and the whole world has Olympic Fever.  What better way to get into the mood and see just what the athletes do to prepare and just how hard they train then to read Gold by Chris Cleave?


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

What a perfect time to read this book! I live near London and I'm getting very excited for the Olympics now :)

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I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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