Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gold by Chris Cleave ****

Zoe Castle and Kate Argall are track cycling racers. They compete for everything: one gold medal, one lover Jack Argall, and one daughter Sohpie. In Gold by Chris Cleave, life is a sum-zero game, neither woman can have anything she wants without taking it from the other. In spite these conflicts, they share the same coach and are something like friends.

Track racing is a different sport from the its more popular cousin: road racing. Lance Armstrong is a road racing cyclist, and even though track awards more Olympic gold medal than the other three disciplines (road, mountain and BMX) combined, it is the least well known. This book provides a wonderful view into track racing: how the races are run and and how the athletes train.

The conflict between Kate and Zoe reaches a climax when Olympic rule changes only allow one to them to compete in London 2012 and Sophie's leukemia returns taking her to the brink of death. The pressure heightens their personality differences. Zoe becomes more of a loner and a ruthless competitor, while Kate become more social and even nicer, which is hard to believe because from the beginning Kate already seems too nice to compete at the Olympic level.

Chris Cleave is a writer of intense research. He trained on track cycles and spent time at a children's hospital to experience the agonies of training and childhood leukemia. The result is an intense story when the comic relief is the Star Wars fantasies of Sophie as she struggles to cope with chemotherapy. Not for everyone, but rewarding if you'rer brave enough to enter.

No comments: