NWK Book Club

Current Book: 'Gold' by Chris Cleave

reuters:

Maybe it’s because they’ve learned to live life that bit faster, maybe it’s because they’re doing it for someone they love; in the Olympic cycling time trial, being a mother is no obstacle to getting on the podium.
The American winner, Kristin Armstrong, retired from competitive cycling in 2009 to have a baby.
Few people doubted that she would get back on her bike, though some might have doubted she would get back to exactly where she left off, winning her second straight Olympic time trial gold on Wednesday at age 38.
And Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya, whose bronze was her second after Sunday’s road race, has two small boys at home of barely school age.
How do they manage it?
“My son has given me balance,” Armstrong said. “I can stop thinking about cycling.”
READ ON: Motherhood and medals do mix in time trial

Just like Gold!

reuters:

Maybe it’s because they’ve learned to live life that bit faster, maybe it’s because they’re doing it for someone they love; in the Olympic cycling time trial, being a mother is no obstacle to getting on the podium.

The American winner, Kristin Armstrong, retired from competitive cycling in 2009 to have a baby.

Few people doubted that she would get back on her bike, though some might have doubted she would get back to exactly where she left off, winning her second straight Olympic time trial gold on Wednesday at age 38.

And Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya, whose bronze was her second after Sunday’s road race, has two small boys at home of barely school age.

How do they manage it?

“My son has given me balance,” Armstrong said. “I can stop thinking about cycling.”

READ ON: Motherhood and medals do mix in time trial

Just like Gold!

Thanks Everyone

Thanks for reading along with us. We’ll be in touch about our next book! 

So, who won Gold?

Did Kate fulfill her dream? What do you think?

What’s your favorite Olympic moment so far?

Schmaltz :-/

Sophie’s illness just seems to crop up at the most convenient plot points, right? I’m a firm believer that you can write about terrible things (terminally ill children, the Holocaust, war, death) without being too sentimental. Things cross that line and get schmaltzy when the sickness itself trumps the agency of the sick character. Sophie exists solely for her sickness to create barriers for Kate’s cycling career and tension with Zoe. She’s more fleshed out than, say, your average Nicholas Sparks character, but that’s not saying much.

So, what did you think of ‘Gold’?

jimmyso:

nwkbookclub:

Did you like any of the characters? Kate, Jack, Zoe, Sophie, Tom?

What did you think of the topic of sacrifice vs. fleeing responsibilities?

Did you think the backdrop of cycling in the Olympics was well crafted?

Was it exciting to follow the story?

What did you think of the ending?

By the end, I even hated Kate’s goody-two-shoes holier-than-thou existence.

I think it’s incredibly hard to write a novel about the Olympics.

I predict the story will be turned into a Hallmark Channel made for TV movie.

One man’s opinion.

Caring for sick children is the Olympics of parenting.

—   This sentiment is expressed both at the end of the novel and, as quoted above, in the Author’s Note. Do you agree with it? Is this an apt metaphor? The summation of ‘Gold’ for you? 

Smells Like Team Spirit

Track cycling starts tomorrow! Fitting that the competitions begin with qualifying for the women’s team sprint. Will you be watching? And do you think Gold added to your understanding of the sport?

I rather think that Gold's choice to focus on the individual sprint takes away a huge part of cycling and sports in general: teamwork. I find it hard to believe that Zoe would go ahead with all the irresponsible things she's done without once thinking that it would come back to haunt her one way or another—if not in personal life, then in her sporting life, which is one arena that she clearly cares the most about. (“I'm doing Athens. I'm not doing…you know…baby.”

Even the Tour de France is much more about the team than how it seems.

Bring on the team sprint.

"Luke, I am your father"

Facing the prospect of never cycling competitively again, Zoe takes a long, hot shower and emerges determined to take back what Kate “stole” from her: her daughter. The most immediate problem with this plan is that, unbeknownst to Zoe, Sophie happens to be in the middle of very serious surgery in the hospital. Thus Zoe hightails it to the hospital to tell Sophie the news. 

Call me slightly thick but it took me a day or so to make the connection between this setup and the infamous scene in The Empire Strikes Back , despite it being specifically referenced through Sophie’s drug-induced dreaming. We get the sense that Zoe’s telling Sophie would be such an emotional blow to her that it might tip the scales of her chances of surviving the already risky surgery. I at least got the sense that Zoe was not armed so much with news, but with a dagger. 

This idea is of course justified by Kate’s desperate attempts not to let Zoe tell Sophie. Just outside Sophie’s hospital room, Zoe attacks Kate, saying that she shouldn’t have gotten up after the  crash to re-race Zoe. 

Kate looked up at her though tears. “Is that what this is about? Because you can have it. You can have my place in London. I’ll phone British Cycling right now. I’ll tell them I cheated. I’ll tell them I sabotaged your bike. I’ll tell them anything you need me to, Zoe, just please leave Sophie out of it.”

Here’s Kate’s heroic moment— her realization that she is a mother first and an athlete second. That nothing is more important to her than Sophie.

Again, it reminded me of Annie-Marie Slaughter’s piece on working women, specifically this sentence:

When I described the choice between my children and my job to Senator Jeanne Shaheen, she said exactly what I felt: “There’s really no choice.” She wasn’t referring to social expectations, but to a maternal imperative felt so deeply that the “choice” is reflexive. 

Thankfully (and unlike Sophie’s Star Wars dreams), Zoe sees this as proof of Kate’s tremendous sense of motherhood, and ultimately tells Sophie not that she is her mother, but instead that she is so lucky to have the parents she has. 

welcometotreegap said: Please clear something up, does Zoe have twins and one dies....?? Or is Tom mistaken as what he thinks should be a baby when they actually took the baby away 15 earlier??

So we have to get a little science-y here. I think what happened was Sophie, who was very premature and very small, came out first without much fanfare. Minutes later, Zoe delivered the placenta, which Tom, being a man, confused for a stillborn child. (This happens on page 210 in my hardcover, by the way.)

Tom tells Zoe the news. Zoe “looked at him then, and he saw relief in her eyes.” But! A few minutes later the doctors brought in the incubator that held a recovering Sophie. It’s interesting to think about whether these few moments when Zoe thought her baby was dead contributed to her lack of connection with Sophie, at least right then.