Author: Chris Cleave
Synopsis: If your dreams pull you in one direction and your heart in another, which should you follow? This is the question that haunts Kate Meadows, a world champion athlete whose eight-year-old daughter Sophie is battling a recurrence of childhood leukemia just as Kate is about to compete for her last chance at an Olympic gold medal. For years, Kate has sacrificed everything for her family and watched her best friend and closest rival, Zoe Castle, conquer the world stage. Kate has never won gold and will have to go through Zoe - who has everything to lose - to get it. Now her child is facing a life-threatening illness, and the stakes are higher than ever. How can she do what is right for her daughter without abandoning all of her dreams?
Why did I pick it up?: I read Little Bee by Chris Cleave several years ago and immediately put him on my "Must Read Everything By These Authors" list.
My Review: Gold is a different kind of book than Cleave's prior Incendiary and Little Bee, both of which were shorter, first person narratives dealing with issues that are not only political but deeply heart wrenching. Gold focuses on Olympic athletes, not quite on the same level as terrorism, which is at the core of Incendiary. Still the writing is solid and the conflict is clear even if it's not a global hot topic.
After years of training and competing together Zoe and Kate have become friends in addition to being rivals. It's a tough place to be with no middle ground, particularly when only one of them can go to the Olympics. Meanwhile Zoe continues her downward spiral of self destruction and Kate juggles her career with her family life as her daughter has a recurrence of cancer. Sophie, the little girl struggling with leukemia, is obsessed with Star Wars and I enjoyed all the references.
Since the main characters are elite cyclists preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, I felt that I learned a lot about Olympic athletes and cycling especially. Don't be deterred if you're not interested in those topics. It was never forced or boring, rather the educational tidbits wove in and out of the story naturally. I appreciated that.
I read this before the Winter Olympics in Socchi and whenever I heard about athletes who shared coaches and training facilities competing against each other, I remembered Zoe and Kate.
My Recommendation: Do you know someone who keeps telling you to read Jodi Piccoult's latest Tearjerker? Give them this. Also anyone into cycling should check it out.
For Next Week: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness