In The Secret of Clouds, young teacher Maggie Topper begins tutoring a sick young boy, Yuri, at home when the school asks her. At first, Maggie is hesitant due to some past experience with a sick child. However, as she tutors Yuri, the two bond closely. The novel alternates between past and present. In the past, we meet Katya and Sasha, Yuri parents and discover the unfortunate circumstances that lead them to their present.
I loved reading about Kiev, Ukraine, especially in such a historical context because I went to medical school in Ukraine. Author Richman also paints an interesting picture of Katya as a ballerina, and I found the couple’s lives in Ukraine to be the most interesting parts of the story. Close enough are the scenes with Maggie’s parents — her eccentric violin-making father and food-loving mother.
The Secret of the Clouds also fosters an appreciation for the work that teachers do. Maggie constantly thinks of ways to make learning more exciting for her kids. I have a friend who teaches kindergarten and I couldn’t help seeing a bit of her in Maggie.
This book was ridiculously predictable — not a single thing surprised me while I read and I’m very easily surprised. I kept holding my breath for a plot twist that never happened. Fortunately, this novel is still somehow readable, albeit not compulsively. A few aspects of the plot were also terribly clichéd, although the writing is thankfully strong.
OverallDespite being terribly clichéd at multiple points, The Secret of Clouds is a moving book about the power of a good teacher and living life to the fullest. Click To Tweet
Despite being terribly clichéd at multiple points, The Secret of Clouds is a moving book about the power of a good teacher and living life to the fullest. I did not regret reading this one and would recommend to anyone who needs a mostly predictable tearjerker. If you’re curious about the Chernobyl disaster or life in Ukraine in the 1980s, this might be the pick for you.If you're curious about the Chernobyl disaster or life in Ukraine in the 1980s, this might be the pick for you. Click To Tweet
I received a copy of The Secret of Clouds from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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Have you read this book or anything by Alyson Richman? What did you think? What are your favorite historical fiction picks? I’d love to know!