3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Fishing for Gold by Ron Foss is a coming-of-age story laced with adventure, family drama, and moral lessons. Bill, an expatriate living in Samara, comes across an enormous supply of gold while prospecting. Dredging it up from the river bed requires him to procure expensive equipment and to fend off piranhas and poisonous water snakes. He enlists the help of Derrick, his grandson, and Johnny, a Costa Rican boy. However, a local policeman named Morales gets wind of his fortune and starts tailing him with the intent to confiscate the gold. Who is feeding Morales with the information? Is someone from the team conspiring against Bill? How will he evade the greedy and opportunistic policeman?
Although the book was plot-driven, the characters were its best assets. None of the adults were ideal characters; they were flawed, often acting in a self-centered manner. Jessica, Bill’s daughter, decided to overlook his faults as long as he supported her and her sons. Lust for gold and an inherent prejudice against Costa Ricans dominated Bill’s character. The constant conflict between the characters made the story realistic. Foss gave each character a distinct and satisfying arc that was suitable for a coming-of-age story. Bill finally learned to admit his faults; Derrick learned to stand up against the ill-treatment Johnny received. Saul, his younger brother, found a way to nurture his wild spirit. Jessica decided to take more responsibility and move on with her life.
Foss incorporated elaborate details of the prospecting technique, describing how each piece of equipment worked. It was exhilarating to be able to go on underwater expeditions with Bill. I loved reading about the numerous adventures the boys had. Their antics amused me to no end. The incident of crocodile-fishing and the encounters with the snakes left me with bated breath.
However, the staggering amount of descriptions often overshadowed the main storyline. For example, before introducing the character of Morales, Foss devoted much space to describe the layout of the police station. There were some unnecessary repetitions of sentences and phrases that irked me. An example follows: "The air is very warm, blowing hard and steady, slightly from the south. Very warm, blowing through his hair, and blowing his shirt collar up into his face. A gust of wind, with it's magic fingers, blows the last button open on his shirt and the tail of his shirt flaps against his back. The warm wind caresses him, blowing through his hair, his head held up and his face set into it, and his shirttail flapping like a flag."
The story alternated between Derrick’s perspective and an omniscient point-of-view. In some instances, the narrative shifted from first-person to third-person right in the middle of a page, often in consecutive paragraphs. These jarring shifts often left me confused. Also, I found more than ten errors in the book.
Considering these points, I rate the novel 3 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to those who love coming-of-age books or character-driven stories with an adventurous side. The absence of profanities ensures that this book is suitable for both young adult and adult readers.
Fishing for Gold
View: on Bookshelves