How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel

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Twelve-year-old Lucy and eleven-year-old Sam are orphaned sisters embarking on a gruesome quest to bury their father. His body is in a trunk that they strap to their horse, and though his body is actively decomposing, they can’t find a burial place that feels right. Once they find a resting place, their path forward is far from clear. Born into a family of gold prospectors, they meet hardship at every turn, as their rights to the land and its riches are relentlessly questioned. They’ve spent their whole lives in the American West, but they are treated as outsiders. Sam, who is impulsive and quick-tempered where Lucy is measured and cautious, believes a better home for them lies across the ocean; Lucy goes along with the planning, though she isn’t so sure Sam is right. When the sisters are separated, each must forge her own way. The sisters will be forced to face their deepest fears as they confront new truths about their family and themselves.

This riveting novel is full of myth and also rooted in a raw, harsh landscape. Children bear the burden of tradition, but family rituals also provide solace and even freedom. The capable flintiness of Lucy and Sam enables their physical survival, but all the toughness in the world won’t numb their wrenching discovery about their own mother’s sacrifices and selfishness. Only their love for each other will help make a place for them in a changing world.


Reviewed By:

Author C Pam Zhang
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 288 pages
Publisher Riverhead Books
Publish Date 2020-04-07
ISBN 9780525537205
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue May 2020
Category Popular Fiction
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