07/02/2012 12:31 pm ET

The Book We're Talking About This Week: "Gold" By Chris Cleave

"Gold" by Chris Cleave
Simon & Schuster, $27.00
Published on July 3, 2012

What is it about?
Two girls, Kate and Zoe, meet at age 19 when they both make the cut for the track cycling national training program. They are friends, but have to compete against each other. They also both make the cut for the 2012 Olympics (when they are 32), and they're desperate to win the gold medal (hence, the name of the book). They both have things holding them back from winning. Who will win? Will this race sacrifice their entire friendship?

Why are we talking about it?
It's particularly timely, since the Olympics are right around the corner. Also, we loved Chris Cleave's previous book, "Little Bee." We also love Cleave's silhouetted covers.

Who wrote it?
Chris Cleave is the author of "Incendiary" and "Little Bee."

Who will read it?
People who loved "Little Bee," people who love the Olympics.

What do the reviewers say?

The Guardian: "In the end, Gold is a bit of a crowd-pleaser, and though I wished things didn't all come together quite so neatly, there's no denying that the novel is, ahem, an entertaining ride."

The Independent: "As with all Cleave's work, Gold probes the limit of what its protagonists will do to identify and protect what they really cherish. And that, in Cleave's confident hands, truly is exhilarating."

New York Daily News: "Cleave immersed himself in the world of track cycling and makes the most of his research in scenes of stunning athletic endurance, but it’s the trials of the human spirit that are his real material in a novel meant to move you. And it does."

Impress your friends:
The last Olympic gold medals that were made completely out of gold were awarded in 1912.

Opening line:
"Just on the other side of an unpainted metal door, five thousand men, women, and children were chanting her name."

Notable passage:
"He didn't know who she was, and she hadn't told him. It was easier to be herself that way. She'd kissed him, and he'd fallen asleep with the lightest touch of her wrist. She'd lain there listening to his breathing. She hadn't moved her wrist from beneath his hand. Her whole life was filled with people who knew who she was, and who gave her training schedules, and who took her pulse day in and day out. They measured her maximum heart rate, her lactate threshold heart rate, her heart rate at optimal power output. It had felt good to lie quietly in her own private darkness beside this man who seemed to care, however slightly, what her heart was doing when it was resting."