Callie's Reviews > Gold

Gold by Chris Cleave
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's review
Jul 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, own
Read from July 11 to 14, 2012

The story of two women whose lives become entwined as teenagers when they begin training with the same coach to become world-class professional cyclists. Kate is a natural talent, whose life out of the sport has shifted her focus- she's married to another cyclist, and her young daughter is battling leukemia. Zoe has less natural talent, but makes up for it in drive and determination- cycling is the only thing in her life, and she is willing to sacrifice everything else in order to win any way she can.

So many parts of this story were well researched and interesting- first, the life of a professional athlete, which is incredibly grueling and focused on making your body a highly tuned instrument, with diet and training. Plus, the drama that comes when a small group of Type A personalities are together all the time. Second, the races themselves. While reading these parts I could feel my heart rate increasing, and I was completely wrapped up in the race, reading faster and faster until the race was done. Finally, one of the narrators of the story was Sophie, Kate's daughter, who is trying to keep a brave face as the cancer ravages her body. Chris Cleave included an afterward discussing his research in this area, and I would recommend that it not be skipped- the people that he interviewed obviously had a strong impact on his life, and it comes through in his portrayal of Sophie.

I really loved this, and it was a quick read. My one complaint-ish thing is the character of Kate- she was almost too perfect, and it made her feel less real. On the other hand Zoe can almost be too evil at times, and it made me feel less sympathetic towards her (by the end of the book she was much more sympathetic).

People might question the timing of this book- the end game is the London 2012 Olympics, and it was released during the Olympic trials. However, instead of seeing this as a money-grab, I feel like it is the work of an inquisitive author who took advantage of the Olympics taking place on his doorstep (Cleave lives in London, I believe) to get some good, strong research done. I know I will be paying much more attention to the track cycling this time around.
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Quotes Callie Liked

Chris Cleave
“The planet was filling up with good-looking young worldlings built entirely of opposites, canceling themselves out and- speaking as a bloke- leaving nothing you'd honestly want to go for a drink with. This new species of guys paired city shoes with backwoods beards. They played in bands but they worked in offices. They hated the rich but they bought lottery tickets, they laughed at comedies about the shittiness of lives that were based quite pointedly on their own, and worst of all they were so endlessly bloody gossipy. Every single thing they did, from unboxing a phone through to sleeping with his athlese, they had this compulsion to stick it online and see what everyone else thought. Their lives were a howling vacuum that sucked in attention. He didn't see how Zoe could ever find love with this new breed of men with cyclonic souls that sucked like Dysons and never needed their bag changed in order to keep on and on sucking.”
Chris Cleave, Gold

Comments (showing 1-3)

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Jamie I await your review! I like Little Bee and this one sounds like a somewhat less heartwrenching premise...?

Callie Jamie wrote: "I await your review! I like Little Bee and this one sounds like a somewhat less heartwrenching premise...?"

It seems less heartwrenching on the surface (2 women who are teammates compete for Olympic gold)... but then you throw in that (kind of a SPOILER ALERT although this is revealed in the first 20 pages) one of the women has a young daughter with leukemia. Cleave has done an incredible amount of research (which he spoke about at the reading), and the physical and emotional effects of the disease are described so well that you can't help but have your heart wrenched by little Sophie.

Jamie I'm glad he goes deeper as Olympic fluff is not my cup of tea, with the exception of the movie Blades of Glory. So I'll definitely keep this one on the TBR!

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