For those of you that became Chris Cleave fans after reading “Little Bee,” you won’t be disappointed with his next novel “Gold.” This is a story about 2 best friends that are vying for the top spot in the 2012 Olympics.
The two main characters, Kate and Zoe met at 19 as they are trying out for a national training program in track cycling. They are a strange combination of best friends because they are also fierce competitiors both on and off the track.
The book moves forward to them at age 32. During that time, not only have they shared races, they have shared boyfriends and a whole lot more. Now they are competing for only one spot to advance to the Olympics.
The book focuses on Kate’s family because her 8 year old daughter, Sophie is battling cancer. Kate and her husband, Jack are both training for the Olympics while fighting for their daughter’s life. This focus on their daughter is daunting as they pursue their goal of Olympic gold.
I have been blessed with healthy children but I have witnessed many of my friends deal with sick children. Nothing is more heartbreaking than watching these families suffer. Cleave takes you through the bike racing but in the end you realize that the focus is on the child. One of my favorite lines from the book is this…
“Looking after a very sick child was the Olympics of parenting. If Sophie had been hers to look after, through the long years of her illness, Zoe knew she wouldn’t have made it.”
The sadness of Sophie’s illness coupled with the bike races keep you engaged through the twists and turns of qualifying for the Olympics. At the very end of the book, Cleave writes: “This is what you learned, after all the racing was over: the hardest laps were the ones you did after the crowd went home.”
As I watch these amazing Olympic athletes earn their medals, I realize that to get to these games, they rode a lot of miles on their own long after the crowd went home and lead very real lives complete with their own sickness and troubles.
This is a well timed and well written book. Go for the “GOLD!”