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Likely Stories: Gold by Chris Cleave

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Chris Cleave has taken an exciting racing story as a recent setting.  The main characters are two young women in competition while training for the Olympics.  He was the author of an interesting story, Gold.  He currently resides in Kingston-upon-Thames, England.

Zoe is a determined and passionate cyclist.  Her goal was to win Olympic Gold.  Her rival is Kate.  The two girls have known each other for years.  Cleave writes, “Zoe held her head up in her hands and rocked back and forth on the bench.  It was torture, being locked in this tiny room, waiting for the race officials to release them.  She couldn’t stop her body shaking and she couldn’t take her eyes off the metal door.  It trembles on its hinges from the crowd noise.  It was a strong door, designed to resist autograph seekers indefinitely or fire for thirty minutes, but fear came straight through it. // ‘God…’ she whispered. // ‘Scared?’ // ‘[Crapping] myself.  Honestly, Tom, aren’t you?’  She looked up at him. // He shook his head and leaned back.  ‘At my age the big even isn’t what scares you.’ // ‘So what is?’ // He shrugged.  ‘Oh, you know.  The lingering sensation that in pursuit of my own exacting goals and objectives I might not have been as generous in spirit as I could have been with regard to the needs and dreams of the people I care the most about or for whom I was emotionally responsible.’ // He popped the gum he was chewing and inspected his nails.  Zoe seethed” (3-4).  I am not a big sports fan, but I am mystified by the work athletes put in to win a medal.

Another interesting character is Sophie.  She is battling leukemia at about 9 years of age, She is obsessed with Star Wars.  The story frequently picks up threads from the story.  Cleve writes, “The Rebel—the kid—resisted, so they locked her in a dark metal holding cell that smelled of machine oil.  […]  // Two imperial Stormtroupers stood guard over the pair.  They exchanged a look, decided that the detainees were secure for now, and nodded.  Leaving the detention block of the Death Star, they slipped discretely out of a side door” (14).

Zoe’s world revolved around cycling.  Cleve wrote, “She snapped her gaze away.  To yelled out the countdown. // Ten seconds to go.  Zoe stared at the black line on the track ahead of her front wheel.  The thin black strip that brought you back to yourself.  She breathed hard, getting the oxygen into her blood.  Focusing.  She looked along the curved black line that bent gravity around the locus of her fury and called in all her demons and bound them together into one infinitely hot point of energy in the center of her.  She shook with the force of it.  She held it on the very edge of control as the countdown reached its end.” (107). 

Chris Cleave’s Gold, is an exciting and riveting tale of determined athletes.  This story will keep you on the edge of your seat.  5 Stars

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.