What is family? What is sisterhood? Can you reach a point where your own needs outweighs what it means to be part of your own family? How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang dances with these questions in this beautifully written novel. The story starts with older sister Lucy and younger sister Sam who have just lost their last remaining parent, Ba, and have to cope with becoming orphans. On their journey, they deal with the difficult question: what do we do now? Sam wants to travel all over the mountains in search of gold. Lucy wants to find the closest town and start her life over again. And on top of all of that, they still have to bury their late father. This is just the beginning of the wild adventure with these sisters. The novel dives into what happens to both of them over the years, what you have to do for the ones you love most in this world and how everything is not always what it seems, especially when it comes to family. Read How Much of These Hills is Gold for a heart breaking feel good story – an oxymoronic tale that will make you smile and ache at the same time.
This book tugged on every heart string I had. I did not expect the ending at all. The story started out a little slow for me – building up the family dynamic between Lucy and Sam took a few chapters for me to get into but I was eventually hooked. Lucy is the classic responsible older sister and Sam is the younger wild child. This family dynamic is one that a lot of people can relate to in their own lives, even though their story begins with the tragic death of their father. What I personally loved about this book was how Zhang drew you in to the back stories of Lucy, Sam and their parents. Although it was set during a tumultuous time, the Gold Rush, both Sam and Lucy found their own sense of home amongst the chaos. They lived in poverty and were constantly on edge with their father working a dangerous job as a mine worker but still found a way to enjoy their lives. This is a great metaphor for everything that has happened in the last year. No one expected quarantine. No one expected the pandemic. No one expected their lives to be completely turned upside down. I know I sure didn’t! But what I learned from this book and the last year is that you can always find a sense of belonging when you’re with your family. Family doesn’t have to be your blood relatives, it is whoever you consider to be your family. I wouldn’t have gotten through the past year without my family – chosen and blood. Lucy and Sam show the same values in How Much of These Hills is Gold. When you’re with the people who care most about you, you will always be a winner.