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How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang book review

How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang book review

How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang book review 

How much of these hills is gold by C Pam Zhang. So this is a debut novel that came out last year and i feel like it was kind of everywhere, probably because it was nominated for the booker prize. And so anytime a book is on the booker prize, 

i feel like everyone starts to pick it up. And so this has kind of always been on my radar but it's a book that i was like slightly hesitant about picking up. 

I was like, this is definitely a book i'm gonna get from the library because from what i've been hearing about the book, i knew that like the writing style itself is going to be pretty hit or miss. 

Some people really got into it and some people had a really hard time with it. I'm happy to say that i actually vibed pretty well with this book, which i personally found to be pretty surprising. 

Maybe i went into it like with low expectations expecting not to like the book and therefore it turned out i liked the book more than i expected. But whatever the case was, i actually really enjoyed this story a lot. 

In this book you are mainly following these two characters named lucy and sam. The story is mainly told through lucy's point of view. They are siblings and they are the children of chinese immigrants. 

The story while it doesn't technically have like a specific time that it's taking place, it's like 1840s to 1860s-ish era california gold rush time period. Or at least that's kind of like when it's based on. 

Like the way this book is structured, at the beginning of each section — there's four parts — at the beginning of each part, there is a date that is kind of given but it says like xx41 for example. 

So it doesn't distinctly say like the exact year and i think that's done on purpose in order to provide almost a universality and also like folklore type of feeling to it. Because while it is taking place kind of during a specific era, 

it's also kind of a more universal story than that. So the story begins with lucy and sam leaving their home. Both of their parents have recently passed away so they are now orphaned. 

And they are leaving town because their parents basically ended up not having a lot of money and like their dad had debts and all of this stuff. And so they have to leave town and figure out how they're going to survive now and so you basically like follow them as they figure out what they're going to do in their life. 

But the story also like follows them as they were like living in this kind of mining town and you see sort of the dynamics of their family. So there's not really like a straight plot synopsis that you can give for this book because it does jump around in time periods quite a bit. 

But the crux of the story is mainly following the story of this family moving to the american west and sort of their hopes and dreams for what would happen and then sort of the actuality of what happened to them. 

And so in a lot of ways, i had like such a push and pull experience with this book because, again, there isn't like a straightforward plot really. You're just sort of getting these like glimpses and moments in time with this family. 

You see sort of lucy wanting to get an education but not really being able to attend school and you find out sort of like the consequences of that. You see sam who is born a girl but kind of wants to take on a more masculine gender role or gender identity and sort of how that plays out in this family and in the wider world. 

You also see kind of the complicated relationship between lucy and sam's parents. Obviously they love each other but also they have a really difficult time. 

Lucy's father drinks and gambles and things like that. And so you're seeing everything through lucy's point of view, which is like relatively limited because i think by the time their parents passed away she's like not even a teenager yet.

So obviously she has like a very limited perspective on what's actually happening in their family but it is a perspective on something that's happening in their family. 

And so you see sort of lucy conflicting with what she wants out of life, what she's obligated to do for her family, and then sort of like what's happening in the wider world around her. 

And then also, on top of all of that, there is the fact that they are of chinese descent. And so they're treated a very specific way in this town as well. So it's like part western part like immigrant experience part family story and it's all of these like really interesting threads that are woven together in a way that's not super tight. 

And so i feel like that's something that a lot of people are going to have a really hard time with. Like this is not a tightly plotted story. Like the point of this book is to feel, again, more like a folk tale than anything else, at least that's how it came across to me. 

And so i think that's sort of why i enjoyed it more than i thought I was going to because usually those sort of like loose threads can feel obviously like incomplete and therefore like when you finish the book it doesn't feel like you're done with the story, like you kind of want more. 

But this one for some reason actually worked for me. I don't think it was perfect and i do think there were some like gaps in time and gaps in story or jumps in time where you got sort of like a sneak peek of something that was happening during a certain time period and i wanted more of that.

There's some really interesting things that you learn about about lucy and sam's parents that i found to be really intriguing. And i honestly think like a book told just from like their perspective or telling their story would have been really, really interesting. 

But i think one of the things that the author was trying to explore is sort of like that generational either wealth or trauma that you can get. One of the things that's explored is sort of like what belongs to lucy and sam considering all the things that were taken from their parents. 

And i won't say more than that but i found that whole exploration to be really interesting and really intriguing and i think one of the reasons why i really like this book despite being someone who like doesn't read a lot of westerns and doesn't really find those stories and like stories from this time period to necessarily catch my attention. 

But i think the fact that it's told from this immigrant perspective, which is not very often told especially from that time period, and kind of turns the idea of like who tells stories, who tells our history, and also including sort of these hidden stories and gaps in our history and kind of talking about like the things that are assumed, especially about our american history, and kind of showing how those assumptions are just assumptions based on like incomplete data almost. 

So yeah, if you're someone who wants your stories to be like really tightly plotted, you're not going to get along with this book necessarily because that's not really what this book feels like. 

It feels almost like a folk story. So there's like plot holes kind of and there's elements to it that are kind of like magical realism or fabulism. And so you kind of have to like suspend disbelief a little bit in order for this to feel full, kind of the same way you do need to with like folk tales and fairy tales and things like that.

But i think that if you're someone who enjoys those types of stories, then this is probably something that you will get along with. So yeah, overall i really enjoyed this book and i'm actually really glad i gave it a chance.

So i recommend it if you were like maybe intrigued by it. I think that it's definitely one worth checking out and i can definitely see why so many people enjoy it so much. 

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