Tuesday, August 27, 2019

"The Other’s Gold"

Named for Iowa but born and raised in Wisconsin, Elizabeth Ames is a writer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, Ames has lived in Seattle, France, and Rwanda since leaving the Midwest. She currently lives in a Harvard dormitory with her husband, two children, and a few hundred undergraduates.

Ames applied the Page 69 Test to The Other’s Gold, her debut novel, and reported the following:
The Other’s Gold follows Alice, Ji Sun, Margaret and Lainey from when they meet as college freshmen through their early years as new parents, and is structured around the worst mistake made by each friend during this intense, transformative time. Page 68 lands right at the end of part I (page 69 is the title page for Part II), and is indeed representative of the book as a whole. Alice has just shared her darkest secret, a mistake she made in childhood with consequences that will follow her forever, and the four become blood brothers/moon sisters, poking blood from their fingers with the burnt tip of a “Not My President” pin:
They were locked together in this new way, by blood, by Alice’s secret, her worst act. They’d sworn in blood under the moon to keep Alice’s secret, and in this way they vowed to keep future secrets, too.

Alice didn’t tell them what had enraged her enough to push. She knew they might have ideas from their own childhoods. It seemed to Alice the only way she could atone at all, to try not to make her friends see this puppy of a man as a wolf of a boy.

None of them were afraid of her, not even for a second, and this Alice must have sensed when they held her in their arms. They hadn’t known twelve-year-old Alice, but they loved her, and if they had been on that bench with her, they might have pushed her brother, too.

But in this fearless embrace there was a bit of gratitude, too, a feeling that Alice had gone out ahead and done the worst thing, a child’s belief that none of them would ever hurt anyone so much.
The four are perched together in this moment, at the end of their childhoods and on the precipice of their adult lives. What Alice shared has forced them to reorganize their ideas of what it means to be good and do bad, categories that grow only more complex as they go on to make their own mistakes and do harm themselves, all the while still believing themselves to be both the person who did that harm, and the one who would never.
Visit Elizabeth Ames's website.

--Marshal Zeringue