The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Ames
“An insightful and sparkling novel that opens on a college campus and follows the friendship of four women across life-defining turning points
Assigned to the same suite during their freshman year at Quincy-Hawthorn College, Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret quickly become inseparable. The leafy green campus they move through together, the idyllic window seat they share in their suite, and the passion and ferocity that school and independence awakens in them ignites an all-encompassing love with one another. But they soon find their bonds–forged in joy, and fused by fear–must weather threats that originate from beyond the dark forests of their childhoods, and come at them from institutions, from one another, and ultimately, from within themselves.
The Other’s Gold follows the four friends as each makes a terrible mistake, moving from their wild college days to their more feral days as new parents. With one part devoted to each mistake–the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite–this complex yet compulsively readable debut interrogates the way that growing up forces our friendships to evolve as the women discover what they and their loved ones are capable of, and capable of forgiving. A joyful, big-hearted book that perfectly evokes the bittersweet experience of falling in love with friendship, the experiences of Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret are at once achingly familiar and yet shine with a brilliance and depth all their own.”
August 27th, 2019
If there was a perfect summary that would describe my ideal kind of book, this would be it. I love novels that follow relationships over time, and anything that starts with a college setting is right up my alley. Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan and Beyond The Point by Claire Gibson are great examples of this category. When I read this book synopsis last spring there was no question I was adding it to my summer reading list.
The Other’s Gold was definitely the book I had the most anticipation about reading this summer and when it arrived on my doorstep on the release day, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I had read a few initial reviews but hadn’t heard that much buzz yet which as a reader, I prefer. Anything that is super highly praised gives me pause because it can overly hype it up in my own head.
Even the cover is perfect (and yes I know you shouldn’t judge them by that, but it is hard not to!)and I had so much I thought I would just love about The Other’s Gold…and then I started it. Ahhh, it is so hard for me to write reviews when I don’t love a book but really really wanted to. Sadly, this was just not the right fit for me.
So we meet these group of four friends at college and supposedly they bond and eventually become lifelong friends. I don’t know, I am a details person and maybe that is the problem, but while I was reading I couldn’t quite figure out what exactly it was that bonded them together. It felt forced and I couldn’t quite tell while they liked each other let alone connect with them myself. Maybe that was the point? But if it was, it definitely went over my head…
Anyway, once we moved on from the whole college scene I did find the book flowed a little more easily but then we start finding out more of these “secrets”. A lot of them came out of left-field, some were quite disturbing(especially the last two) and some just super out of character, at least as much as I felt I “knew” about them…
Maybe part of this was that I never felt like I really “knew” these women as most of the descriptions were flat and predictable so it was hard to match these intense twists with characters that I didn’t feel I understood beyond the surface level descriptions. It was wordy and angsty but lacked dimension for me. I am totally on board with books about dysfunctional relationships and tough topics. With that said, I enjoy those types of sagas when it all makes sense with more back story and I just didn’t find that here.
I think I feel more critical because I just had such high hopes for this one and I found it disappointing. Much I this definitely has to do with how much I was anticipating reading it. This was also a good reminder for me about having realistic expectations and then being pleasantly surprised when I end up really loving a book.
I enjoyed her writing style, this storyline just didn’t quite work for me and some of it felt quite uncomfortable. I did like that the book had some diversity and that Ames took on timely topics in a readable and accessible manner. And as always, I would love to know what you thought of this one if you have read it!