Title: The Secret of Clouds
Author: Alyson Richman
Publish Date: February 19, 2019 (Today!)
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Katya, a rising
ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an
unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the
couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident
cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that
isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated
teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by
her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful
connection, Yuri's boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie
to make difficult changes in her own life. And she'll never realize
just how strong Yuri has made her — until she needs that strength the
My Two Cents:
"The Secret of Clouds" takes place in two times: the 1980s in Ukraine and the late 1990s on Long Island, New York. Katya and Sasha are a young couple in Ukraine. They have a chance to leave Ukraine due to Sasha's Jewish heritage and they take it but not before the Chernobyl disaster happens in the country. It takes the Soviet government THREE DAYS before they tell anyone about what is going on. It's enough time to leave many affected by the radiation floating in the air. In the late 1990s, Maggie is a teacher charged with tutoring Yuri, Katya and Sasha's son. Yuri must stay home because his heart is too weak to attend school. His parent believe that his heart defect is due to the the fallout of Chernobyl. This was a powerful and warm-hearted story.
I have really enjoyed Alyson Richman's historical fiction books so I was interested to see how she wrote in more contemporary settings. This book definitely has a different feel than the other books that she has written. I really liked all of the descriptions that she uses in the sections that talk about life in Ukraine leading up to and just after the Chernobyl disaster. It was amazing to read about just how anemic the government's response to the disaster was. So very scary!
This book is a love letter to teachers and to the ability that teachers have to impact those that they teach. I loved seeing how the relationship between Yuri and Maggie evolved throughout the book. It takes Maggie a bit to find out how to connect with Yuri but soon discovers that she can talk about baseball all day long with him. Through that connection, she is able to bring something really special out in Yuri. Overall, this was a good read.