Expected publication: February 26, 2019
I love the cover of this novel. The description had me intrigued and I was excited to start reading.
The book opens in 1999. Twenty-six-year-old, Maggie Topper has just moved into a small but lovely cottage with her boyfriend, Bill. Maggie is looking forward to starting her second year teaching sixth grade English Language Arts at Franklin Intermediate School.
Maggie formerly worked as a personal assistant at a prominent PR firm but she wasn’t happy working there. So she went back to school for a degree in teaching.
Maggie is busy getting her classroom ready when the principal asks to speak with her. He has an unusual request, a special assignment from the superintendent. He wants her to tutor an eleven-year-old boy named Yuri. Yuri was supposed to be in her class this year but is unable to attend school due to severe health issues. Maggie would tutor him in his home after school two days a week.
At first, Maggie is hesitant to take the position. Memories from her childhood, of another child in need flood her mind “a painful reminder of the unfairness of life”. But ultimately, she decides to take the opportunity. She switched careers to make a difference and this boy needs her help.
Katya Krasny and her husband, Sasha emigrated from Ukraine before getting pregnant with Yuri. We are taken back to 1984 and learn more about Katya and Sasha’s lives in Kiev, their move to America, and their adjustment to living in the US.
Maggie meets Yuri Krasny and his family. Yuri isn’t thrilled that Maggie will be tutoring him. He is frustrated as he is stuck inside all day while other children are outside running and playing. At first, the visits don’t go very well. Maggie starts to worry that she’s going to fail Yuri, but eventually she finds a way to connect with him.
“The thrill of teaching children is that they don’t edit themselves like adults do.”
Maggie doesn’t realize just how much this young boy will bring to her own life.
“The Secret of Clouds” is a story about relationships and how they can transform us. It was an enjoyable read, although I did find it a bit predictable and slow at times. But overall, this was a lovely story that I’m glad I read.
Alyson Richman indicated that the story is a “love letter to all the teachers I’ve had in my life who contributed to making me the writer I am today.” I could see how much she wanted to honor all teachers. Maggie’s passion for teaching definitely shines through and I was reminded of some of the wonderful teachers I had growing up.
I’d like to thank Berkley for providing me with a copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.