Amazon 5-star review from an artist and fellow equestrian:
“First rate prize winner! Vivien Gorham has tapped into her own adolescence taking riding lessons on school horses within a barn of high spirited girls and spun a page-turning drama. I rode with Vivien at a barn in Minnesota and as I read her first novel I often smiled at how she wove the stern and tough personality of a trainer with the forgiving and unconditional love from the horses. Vivien is a gifted rider and writer. I recommend this book for anyone who loves horses. Can’t wait to read Vivien’s next novel.” —Allison Leete (October 2017).
Thoughtful words from an accomplished young rider and reader:
“The first thing I noticed and really enjoyed about this novel was how familiar the setting seemed to me, for example a local tack store and horse barn. I have never found this level of realism in ‘horsey’ fiction before. Even though I am a ‘horsey’ person I usually try to avoid books in this genre. I find them cliché and unrealistic as well as very predictable. For example, a girl who has only been riding for a month rescues a wild horse and wins the Olympics…all within a year. Very frustrating! So I was pleasantly surprised that Touch of Gold does not fit that category. All the detail and explanations of all things ‘equine’ not only enable non-horsey people to enjoy a good read but they could learn a lot too. On the other hand I didn’t find it too simplistic. I really enjoyed Jamie’s journey through the teenage years. I felt her character had lots of depth and I could easily relate to her and her friends. Overall I am really glad I read this book, it was beautifully written and a highly enjoyable substitute for algebra in math class.” –Esme, age 14 (December 2015).
Here’s what the National Reading Campaign had to say:
“In her debut YA novel, Touch of Gold, author Vivien Gorham offers readers a thoughtful, moving story of friendship, determination, and courage, exploring the world of competitive horseback riding and the unexpected, yet unbreakable bond between a lonesome young girl and a skinny palomino mare she comes to love and name Peach… Well-paced and engaging, with a relatable protagonist to cheer for, Touch of Gold is a tender coming-of-age story, adeptly celebrating the ups and downs of young love, the joy of animals and the life-affirming companionship they give, and the intoxicating power of taking chances and believing in oneself.” –Jennifer D. Foster (December 2015).
From the Show Ring Ready equestrian blog:
“The main character is the type of independent, goal-oriented teen who will resonate with readers even if she doesn’t always make the wisest decisions. The story is accessibly written to appeal to a wide range of readers while maintaining enough twists to keep things interesting. Vivien Gorham does a very good job of expressing on the page the relationship between a horse and rider or handler, as well as the comfort that horses can provide for us. Each horse has a distinct personality, and many of the different human personalities often present in the horse world are included in the story… [Many] young readers would be delighted to receive a copy of Touch of Gold and delve into Jamie and Peach’s story.” —JumperGroom (December 2015). For the full review, visit ShowRingReady.blogspot.ca.
From Atlantic Books online magazine:
“Touch of Gold by Vivien Gorham is a heartwarming story of a girl and a horse… Jamie is a shy, insecure heroine who finds courage and determination through her passion for horses and riding. Her attempts to make friends with humans are not as successful as her overtures to horses, but she perseveres and by the end of the book she forms some strong attachments and gains a sense of belonging. Children entering the uneasy social scene of early teens will find Jamie’s challenges easy to relate to…[and the story] moves along to an exciting finish.” –Children’s author Charis Cotter (December 2015). For the full review, visit AtlanticBooks.ca.
Goodreads 5-Star Review:
“This a great book about a girl and a horse (enough said?). As a woman who was once a “horse-crazy” girl, I found myself really identifying with the main character. We shared many of the same experiences of falling in love with a horse and learning to ride, which I’m sure are pretty universal and will resonate with anyone who has ever owned or wanted to own a horse. I had warm-fuzzy feelings the entire time I was reading. I highly recommend this book for any “horse-crazy” kids in your life.” —Adora (November 2015). Goodreads.com.
Another Goodreads 5-Star Review:
“LOVE. That is all I can say. I’m speechless.” —Anna, age 11 (January 2017). Goodreads.com.
Another Goodreads 5-Star Review:
“[The stories of Jamie and Peach] were intertwined beautifully throughout the [book]. Gorham [is] masterful at keeping [all the characters] straight for the reader, [and] brilliant at making each easily related to. The descriptions of the horses and well-written scenes made me feel like I was right inside the stables. [T]his being Gorham’s first book, I am eager for her to write many more.” —Author Sarah Butland (January 2016). For the full review, visit Goodreads.com.
Another Goodreads Review:
“I enjoyed reading this narrative and being introduced into the competitive world of show jumping! The story flowed well and the characters were well developed. Courage, determination, problem solving, and the love of an animal will endear any reader to this touching coming-of-age book! A wonderful debut novel by Gorham!
Recommended!!!” —Karen Upper (May 2016). Goodreads.com.
Other comments about Touch of Gold:
“Your book “Touch of Gold” is amazing!!!!! If you ever have the time, you should write a second book! That would be a dream come true. Thank you so much for writing such an amazing book!” —Emma, age 12 (February 2016).
“LOVE! My daughter read it in one evening. Glowing review.” –Shelby, mother of young reader (November 2015).
“[My daughter] took a copy home and has not been able to put this down!! Thinking a 5 star review on it’s way…” –Elizabeth, mother of 14-year-old equestrian (November 2015).
“I loved it! For “Dress Up as Your Favourite Literary Character Day” at school I went as Jamie in Touch of Gold!” –Mahri, age 8 (October 2015).
“I really loved your book! My friend and I had a contest to see who could finish it first.” –Maegwin, age 10 (December 2015).
“It was fantastic!” —Amelia, age 10 (December 2016).
And to find out about Touch of Gold’s journey from idea to published book, read the article:
“First-time novelist strikes gold with a horse story for young people” by Kate Watson, on the online news site Hello Dartmouth (September 2015).
What people are writing about Spirit of Summerwood…
Canadian Horse Journal review:
“I really enjoyed the character development throughout the story. Aislinn is a spunky and passionate heroine, whose refusal to follow rules leads to many antics and close shaves. …[O]ver the course of the book [she] learns to care about and fight for others. Spirit of Summerwood is a fun, progressive book with lots of horsiness. A blend of genres, it encompasses Indigenous allyship and Poor farm history, as well as 2SLGBTQIA+ and disabled campers. Even somebody who has never ridden a horse will be able to enjoy the book and relish the descriptive passages when Aislinn and Firefly gallop through the forest, wind blowing in their hair. I would recommend this book for an animal lover looking to read…[an] eye-opening story about struggling to do the right thing, even if it means breaking rules.” –Sage Millen (Winter 2022).
From Atlantic Horse & Pony Magazine:
“A true coming-of-age story with elements of magical realism and authentic equestrian themes.” –Book Stall (November 2022).
Thoughtful review from an accomplished young rider and reader:
“Spirit of Summerwood…is a captivating read filled with mystery, Indigenous culture, and of course, horses! I think [it] is a perfect book for young horse-lovers as it combines an authentic horse-filled story with an exciting, mysterious plot and lots of well-researched Indigenous culture, thus a compelling read which is also very educational. The horse-related experiences are very detailed and accurate, and I think these will really appeal to young riders everywhere! …I encourage young riders of all ages to read Vivien Gorham’s books!” –Grace Stevenson (September 2022). Foshay International Facebook Page.
Digitally Lit 5-Star Review:
“I immediately fell in love with everything about it – the perfect summer camp setting, the relatable characters, and of course all the horses. Spirit of Summerwood teaches readers about some indigenous history in a very youth-friendly way, I absolutely loved it. This is the perfect book for any young reader who loves history, adventure, and most importantly, horses!” —Ellie Wilson (December 2022). Digitally Lit.
Goodreads 5-star review:
“I am so excited to write a review for Spirit of Summerwood! It brought back many childhood memories with horses and riding, even the descriptions of barn & horse smells from the mind of a horse lover was perfectly described. I always enjoy an exciting mysterious element to any book too. I couldn’t put it down, I wanted to constantly read and find out what happens next. It’s a fantastic read for any horse lover out there that needs a twist of spooky as well. I hope Vivien writes more like this as I’m absolutely hooked and anxious for more.” –Ashley K. (May 2022). Goodreads.com.
Twitter review from a writer/teacher/blogger:
“Really enjoyed The Spirit of Summerwood by @viviengorham! An exciting MG novel about horse camp, a girl who wants to do something important and ghosts! Interesting elements of Mi’kmaw culture, set in Nova Scotia.” –Andrea L. Mack (October 2022).