Book Title and Author: The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman
Publication Date and Publisher: February 19, 2019 by Berkley Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 384 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: January 15, 2019 (e-arc)
From the #1 international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Velvet Hours comes an emotionally charged story about a mother’s love, a teacher’s promise, and a child’s heart…..
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 most……
A novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart.
This book…oh my, after finishing it, I had to sit with tears running down my face as I let all the poignant, heartbreaking yet wonderfully inspiring emotions from The Secret of Clouds course through me. I cannot imagine reading this book without being affected in some way by the incredible characters, heartening plot, or Alyson Richman’s breathtaking, lyrical writing. This is my first time reading a book by Richman, but it definitely won’t be my last.
As many of you know, I’ve been an English Literature professor for many, many years, so I was quite thrilled to read a book where the main character is a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher…yes, the teaching environment is vastly different but to be a teacher, an educator, is a profession that I truly believe with all of my heart is a calling for the ones who want to instill the love of learning, inspire, and help students of all ages discover their own potential. Even more, I believe it’s about discovering what your students can teach you. So astoundingly did Richman capture all those things in this book, that I was completely blown away!
Maggie Topper is a young teacher who has so, so much to give her students and wants them to learn, strive for more, and grow. I just marveled at her character because Maggie is every teacher who inspired me to reach higher and realize that I was stronger and could achieve anything I could dream. No, Maggie is not perfect–she’s human, flawed, and very real, but she has the passion and dedication that every true educator whom I’ve ever known has shown. Can I just say (if you can’t tell) how much I love her?
Katya, the beautiful ballerina who can no longer dance, and Sasha, the Jewish scientist who faces persecution under the Soviet regime, are young lovers from Kiev who came to the United States for a better life. Their story is romantic, lovely, poignant, and so bittersweet. I love how their story in the past while living in Ukraine is intertwined with the story in the present day, especially as we learn about the awful disaster that happened in Ukraine that unknowingly to them leads to their son Yuri being born with a terrible heart condition.
Yuri is a character who will always stay in my heart, and his story is one I don’t want anyone to miss! His heart condition prevents him from attending school, so Maggie begins tutoring him at home. It isn’t until Maggie discovers they share a love of baseball that she tears down his walls and forges a deep bond with this wise beyond his age boy–a boy with the same dreams, hopes, and desires as every other boy his age. I loved his joy at the small things, and it reminded me while reading not to take everything for granted and to look at the pleasures in each and every day. Yuri truly reminded me of all the students who have ever touched my heart and for that, I’m grateful.
The Secret of Clouds is one of my favorite books of 2019, and I highly recommend it. Richman manages to explore the love between mother and child, between father and son, between teacher and students, between lovers, and one’s hopes and dreams for tomorrow. The book is uplifting while being emotional, and I’m going to hold it close to my heart!
**Thank you, Edelweiss and Berkely Publishing for the ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review. **