The Secret of Clouds

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I absolutely loved The Secret of Clouds from the very beginning to the very end.  

As a retired teacher, I love stories of teachers and the special students that totally touch your heart.  You usually have a few in your career, those students that change your life as much as you change theirs. 

The story is told through the eyes of Maggie Topper a 6th grade English teacher.  She is given the assignment to tutor Yuri, a boy whose health problems keep him from attending school.  When she goes to his house, she meets Yuri and his parents, Sasha and Katya. 

Sasha and Katya have their own story to tell and we read about their lives and how they came to the United States.   Katya was an aspiring ballerina and Sasha was a scientist in their native Kiev.  After the Chernobyl accident, they move to the United States. 

So, it’s kind of two stories going on, the story of Yuri’s parents and the story of the relationship between Maggie and Yuri.  Maggie comes to care so much for Yuri and wants him to live the best life possible.  When they bond over baseball, she enlists the help of another one of her students, Finn.  

As I said, I loved this book.  It reminded me of why I became a teacher.  As a parent, I sympathized and could only imagine the heartache of Sasha and Katya as they tried to raise their boy the best they could.  Sometimes predictable, but in a very good way. 

I received an ARC of this book.
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I really expected to love this book, but found myself bored with the current timeline. She felt too saccharine, almost cloying. I’d have loved a book solely featuring their time in the Ukraine, though.
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I wasn’t sure I would like this book. I had never read anything by Ms Richman but the description made me want to try it. Well I fell in love with Yuri. His strength and outlook on life were amazing. And how could you not love a boy who loved baseball? I was so happy when Maggie introduced Yuri and Finn.  It was just what he needed. I don’t want to give anything away but I will definitely be recommending this book.
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lLet me tell you a secret. A unique kind of person exists in this world, one who radiates light even through a curtain of darkness. As a teacher, I've seen everything in eyes staring back at me: the child who hates school and wishes to be outside; the one who aims only to please; the glassy, sleepy eyed child;and the one who' perpetually lost in a daydream. But there are those rare moments when a student sits before you and you immediately are certain-and you can't know why, it's just a feeling in your bones-that they are different. This child is not be confused with the student who's the most ambitious, or the one who is naturally strong at taking tests. No this child, the one you sense is extraordinary is the one who returns everything you give and more. He or she becomes your beacon, as every word you utter in the classroom suddenly has a destination. It's as if you are teaching their light. The thrill of teaching children is that they don't edit themselves, like adults do. Truth can be found in every classroom, and I savored that purity like a refreshing glass of water. I wanted to be the teacher who read passages out loud to my students, like my own English teacher had done when I was in sixth grade, so we could all hear the music in the words. Deep down, I believed a story could change us, and that if we read it deeply enough, a good book could transform our souls. 

This. got. me. from the first few sentences as you are introduced to our heroine and believe most teachers are heroes but this one reminded me of my own children's teachers. One teacher told my 5 year old daughter that she was like a butterfly. That she found something special in my daughter and that was she wanted to learn. My eldest daughter's teacher Mrs. Mattis is a teacher that I am fond of as she took special interest in my daughter and made learning fun. I think this book connects you because we all can remember a teacher, a student, a book and that is the prose of this book.

Maggie an upcoming sixth grade teachers whose idealistic approach to teaching and learning is excited to start her new year. She has some plans for her new class to get to know them, introduce to them to some new books and give them a love of learning. Maggie's principal approaches her on the first day of class about tutoring a stay at home student named Yuri. He is suffering from a heart defect that could easily kill him if he would get sick. In Maggie's own childhood, she had a friend that had died and before she died stayed home looking out the window as other students went to school. She is haunted by her friends face as she watches other students go to school and she stayed at home. When asked to do this tutoring job, those feelings and emotions come back. Seeking guidance from her Italian mother and her retired father. A man whose love for music shaped Maggie's child now makes his own violins. A craftsman who lovingly and with patience makes each piece. His character displays his passion. Her parents remind her of her own worth and she realizes that she is made to take to walk alongside Yuri in learning. As always, it is usually the other who learns the most. Yuri had that way with people.

In meeting Yuri, she must find common ground for him to participate in his own learning. She finds that special common ground that brings them together. The common ground that puts a light in Yuri's eye to learn and see life as a possibility and not a death sentence.

The narration goes back forth on Yuri's family as they are Russian and have their own unique background that adds so much to Yuri's life and quite honestly to the life of this book. His mother Katya was a devoted ballerina and his father Sasha a scientist. The reason why they left Russia and what may have caused Yuri's condition. Their heartbreaking story of love, blame and hope all rolled into this family as they so much want the world for their son but knowing the world can kill him at any time. How Maggie earns trust with this family that in turn what they experience few people ever do. Life. What a well lived life means when all that really matters is always in front of you. 

Highly recommend and be prepared to cry, cheer, see love and life differently. It will transform your soul knowing the secret of the clouds

A Special Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
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Named One of the Best 2019 Winter Books by PopSugar! 
Do you remember a teacher you had in grade school, high school or college that changed your life, or your perspective on life? In Alyson Richman's, novel, THE SECRET of CLOUDS (BerkleyPublishingGroup) several lives are changed by a passionate and dedicated teacher, Maggie Topper, as well as her own.

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….

THE SECRET of CLOUDS is a story about family, heartbreak, healing and hope. Each of us are challenged with the task of looking at our own lives and reminds us never to take a day for granted.
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A wonderful heartfelt story on how an English tutor and her student bond and learn life lessons from each other.  A good book club selection as many discussion points can be addressed. I can’t wait for more like this from Alyson Richman.
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I liked parts of this story.  There are two couples who come together through the young boy Yuri.  He was born with a heart defect that his parents, Katya and Sasha think has to do with the nuclear reactor accident in Chernobyl before they moved to the United States.  The second couple is Maggie and her boyfriend Bill (minor character). Maggie is a teacher and agrees to Tutor Yuri at home.  The story doesn't have any surprises, it pretty much plods along like you would expect.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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The Secret of Clouds is a powerful novel that I knew was going to have me in tears at points, but the journey was so fulfilling that I could not put the book down.  

Maggie teaches 6th grade English and is preparing for the school year when the principal calls her into the office to ask her to tutor a young boy who is undergoing some health issues.  Maggie initially is resistant to the idea due to a situation from her past that she hasn't quite moved past but she agrees to tutor young Yuri at his home.  As their path together evolves throughout the school year, we are also provided glimpses into Yuri's parents past life in Ukraine and the role Chernobyl played as well. 

The Secret of Clouds is one of those novels that I will be thinking about for some time to come.  It is quite simply a beautifully written book that I didn't want to step away from.  To me, it is a testament of how we all impact each other's lives in ways both large and small.  It's also a tribute to the importance of the relationships between teachers and students.  

This was a very strong four star read for me and I highly recommend it.  I received this book courtesy of Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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THE SECRET OF CLOUDS by Alyson Richman is, in her words, "first and foremost a love letter to all the teachers I've had in my life who contributed to making me the writer I am today." The main character is Maggie, a young teacher who tutors a homebound and sensitive student, Yuri. Maggie talks about her own passion for teaching: "the thrill of teaching children is that they don't edit themselves, like adults do. ... Deep down I believed that a story could change us, and that if we read it deeply enough, a good book could transform our souls."  She later remarks, "I looked for clues in every one of my students' work. ... What I believed more than anything was that having something in your life that you loved deeply sustained you." And Maggie and Yuri bond over his love of baseball. In fact, this book speaks quite a bit about love – like "food is love" when Maggie and her Mom reflect on the family traditions and stories. Another example is Yuri's parents, Katya and Sasha, who "loved him with so much ferocity that it sometimes felt like a sharp shooting pain in his [Sasha's] heart."  Overall, THE SECRET OF CLOUDS is a gentle read, quietly underlining the impact which students and teachers can have on each other.
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Recently I finished reading Alyson Richman’s recently published novel, The Secret Of Clouds.  I read hundreds of books each year—I am a librarian and a reviewer—and I live to inspire people to discover what a joy reading books is and how they can change your life—your heart as well as your brain.  And I have to say this book is one of the best I have read in a long time.  Wow!  

It is the first novel by this author I have ever read.  And it certainly won’t be the last.

If I look at the book through the eyes of an English teacher—which I was—the book is beautifully written and constructed from beginning to end.  But it is the theme and the characters of the book that steal your heart.  

One of the main characters of the book—Yuri, an 11-year-old-boy—is an immigrant to America along with his parents.  Yuri has a defective heart, because his parents lived near Chernobyl in 1986 when that nuclear disaster occurred.  Yuri is too weak to attend regular school, so another of the other main characters of the book, an idealistic young teacher named Maggie from Long Island, is assigned to visit his home and tutor him.  The novel is developed through the eyes of Yuri and his family, and Maggie and her family.  

Yuri will steal your heart.  Despite being confined to his home and the fact that he suffers from ill health—the worst of circumstances—Yuri finds hope and wisdom in the world around himself and brings inspiration and comfort to others through his wise words.

Here is the publisher’s synopsis about the book:

“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.”

I LOVED the quote the author chose to cite at the beginning of the book:
“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold. —Zelda Fitzgerald”

Here is an excerpt from the book from the viewpoint of the teacher Maggie:

“In the fall of 1999, I met Yuri, a student who one day would teach me lessons I could never have learned in school. I was young, just two years out of Columbia Teachers College. I had abandoned my first job after graduation as a personal assistant at a well-respected New York City PR firm, where my days had been so demoralizing and brain-sucking that I often thought eating glass might be less painful than spending twelve hours tending to my boss’s Godzilla-like needs. Hoping to switch into something that could restore my faith in humanity and also give my life purpose, I followed my mother’s suggestion and went back to school for a degree in teaching. 

To be honest, I became nearly evangelical in my passion for teaching after I switched careers. The thrill of teaching children is that they don’t edit themselves, like adults do. Truth can be found in every classroom, and I savored that purity like a refreshing glass of water. I wanted to be the teacher who read passages out loud to my students, like my own English teacher had done when I was in sixth grade, so we could all hear the music in the words. Deep down, I believed a story could change us, and that if we read it deeply enough, a good book could transform our souls.”

Another excerpt from Maggie’s viewpoint that I loved:

“I looked for clues in every one of my students’ work. A single sentence could illuminate if something was going on in their families, or shed light on a hidden anxiety. The best, however, was when it revealed a passion for something. I didn’t care if it was music or baseball. What I believed more than anything was that having something in your life that you loved deeply sustained you.”

A passage that gives you a glimpse of Yuri and Ms. Topper ( Maggie) together:

““Okay, now that we’re done with our snack, let me ask you. Did you have fun with the latest writing assignment?” 

Hoping to ignite my students’ curiosity, I had instructed them to write about something they experienced in their life that had made them “wonder.” I was excited to hear what Yuri had written. 

He wrinkled his brow. “Actually, I did. It took me a while to decide what I was going to write about. But then after I let my mind wander a bit, it came to me.”

“So you managed to get over your writer’s block. That’s great, Yuri.”

“Yeah, the strange thing is, Ms. Topper, I never liked writing before. But now I notice I feel a lot better after I do it.”

“Well, that’s really good news. You know what to say to make your teacher happy.”

“I said it because it’s true, not to make you happy,” he answered flatly.

I felt my face warm at his words. Again, I heard Suzie’s voice in my head. Kids know when you’re trying too hard. Yuri didn’t want me to always be chirpy and full of positivity. I was sensing he wanted someone he could be real with, and not have to censor his thoughts or emotions. I took a few seconds to find my composure and give Yuri what he wanted. He wanted me to be honest with him.

“Well, truth is important in writing,” I said slowly. “Pursuing it is the essence of why writers write and artists create. Michelangelo used his chisels to release a figure he believed was buried inside a block of marble. Monet used impressionistic brushstrokes to evoke atmosphere and light. Both of them were searching for ways to reveal something you didn’t see clearly at first glance.”

Yuri’s eyes flickered. He was listening to everything I was saying, and I could feel it.

“Writers use words in that same way. They are searching to find meaning in a world that’s often difficult and confusing. They pursue truth by questioning what’s around them.” I paused for a moment before continuing. “Am I making any sense?”

Yuri smiled. “Yeah, a lot.”

“Good. I’m relieved.” It was strange how quickly one could sense when they were floundering with a student. It felt good to know that I was getting through to him now.

“Sometimes the blank page is scary, Ms. Topper, and I don’t know how I’m going to fill it. But then I just close my eyes and write what I feel.”

“That’s the beauty of it, Yuri. When you surrender yourself to the process and just start putting the truth down on paper.” Yuri nodded.”

One last excerpt from an interview with the author at the end of the book:

“Interview with Alyson Richman:

1. In the past you’ve always written historical novels. What inspired you to a write a more contemporary story? What themes did you know you wanted to explore? 

The Secret of Clouds is indeed my first contemporary novel, but I didn’t consciously set out to write a more modern-day story. Instead, the material actually found me. Just like with my earlier novels, the book was inspired by a true-life story that haunted me and that I couldn’t shake from my mind. A dear friend of mine, who is an elementary school teacher, told me about a letter she had kept for several years as part of an old class assignment. The letter, which was written by a sick child who later tragically died, was inadvertently mailed back to the girl’s parents before my friend had had a chance to alert them that it was on its way. I felt that so much of that story warranted further exploration: the dedication and passion of an educator; the unique relationship between a teacher and a bright and curious yet physically weakened and isolated child; and the unforeseen comfort that a piece of paper—written in the since-departed child’s hand—would later bring to all who had known her. 

Because all of my prior novels did weave in a historical theme, I again wanted to create a backstory of a part of history that I felt needed to be explored more in contemporary literature. When my son was an infant, his first babysitter was a former nurse from Ukraine, who shared with me her stories of the accident at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear plant. I would never forget her describing how, for three days, no one knew about the accident, so they were all outside sunning themselves in the unseasonably hot weather and bathing in the now unusually warm waters of the local river. Babies were soon born with rare cancers and heart defects akin to what my character Yuri had. Countless health problems related to the radiation leak still plague the Ukrainian population. I wanted to illuminate this trauma in my novel, and fusing these two stories of the letter and of Chernobyl was the perfect way for me to accomplish exploring the themes that were important to me.”

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book and thank its publisher Berkley and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of the novel and for allowing me to review it.
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3.5 stars rounded up.

Thank you to Berkley Publishing via Netgalley for my copy of this book!

The Secret of Clouds is an ode to all the great teachers out there, and a reminder of why education is so valuable and important. I wanted to be a teacher for a long time, and even though I am not one now, this book lit that fire back in me and I could feel the passion anew.

Maggie is a dedicated sixth grade English teacher who lives her life for her students. When a new student, Yuri, is too ill to be in class, Maggie agrees to tutor him in his home a few days a week. At first, Maggie struggles to form a bond with Yuri and worries she is failing him, but she quickly forms a connection with him when she discovers his love of baseball, and realizes he is teaching her more than she is teaching him. Yuri's parents, Katya and Sasha, emigrated to the United States from Kiev after a tragedy caused Yuri to fall ill. The novel goes back and forth between Maggie's perspective and Katya and Sasha's.

I loved going back to school in this novel. Maggie's passion for teaching and her willingness to go to any lengths for her students was so inspiring. This book made me want to get up and live life with an open heart, not taking anything for granted. I was reminded of the beauty of the world, and how great things can happen if we open our hearts to them.

Despite the lessons I learned, and Richman's passionate writing, for whatever reason, I still wasn't able to fully connect with the story. Some of the most devastating moments in the novel simply did not move me the way I would have expected them to. This left me wanting more and feeling slightly less than satisfied. I really enjoyed this novel, it just didn't stick with me the way I expected it to. If you are a teacher or hoping to be one though, you need to read this book. It will move you to great lengths, and remind you how important your work is.
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The Secret of Clouds
By Alyson Richman 

This is a heartbreaking, moving and endearing story.
Set in fall of 1999, Maggie Topper, a second-year sixth-grade language arts teacher, takes on an extra duty teaching assignment for Yuri, a young boy born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie is a passionate dedicated teacher but has the challenge to bring Yuri out of his shell but the factor that binds them together is baseball. Yuri’s parents are immigrants from Kiev and immigrate to the USA after the Chernobyl incident. Yuri and Maggie develop a relationship that affects them both. They learn from one another.
 This was an unforgettable read.
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This was a sweet story about a teacher and her student.  It handled some very serious subjects with seriousness and care. For the teachers out there, the ones who do it all- you will definitely relate!
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Maggie Topper has moved from New York City to eastern Long Island where she will be teaching English at a middle school. This is a major career change and her first time working at a school. Her move to rural life was also motivated by her desire to live with her long-time boyfriend.  

One of her early assignments is to tutor a child who is too ill to attend classes. Yuri Krasny has a congenital heart condition which keeps him home and isolated. He would love to play baseball and engage with other children but his body is too frail for a normal life. Over time Maggie and Yuri form a bond which impacts Maggie beyond the classroom.

The Secret Of Clouds is a story about family, love, and friendship. Alison Richman is a wonderful storyteller whose books always depict rich character development. This book demonstrates the author's unique talents in interlacing multiple time periods.
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An absolutely stunning novel with characters we cheered for. Heartfelt, raw, and absorbing. We can’t wait to share this book with bookish friends.
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It is endearing to find a character who, even in the worst of circumstances, manages to find hope and brings comfort to others through his wise words. That’s exactly how Yuri, an 11-year-old boy who plays a central role in The Secret of Clouds, handles the many hardships that he deals with in his life, making a lasting impact on everyone he meets along the way. That’s not to say that he is at all an unrealistic character. The book does not sugarcoat or ignore the harsh realities of living with a severe medical condition, and the fears and hardships faced by the family members and loved ones of the person suffering. This book manages to delicately balance the dark and the light, so as not to tip the scales completely one way or the other. 

This novel, unlike many I have read in recent years, follows a nearly perfect plot diagram model, with a climax that, while not absolutely shocking based on the context, still made me cry like a baby (and I don’t usually cry when I read sad books). It is refreshing for the climactic portion of the story to refrain from impatiently rushing to its ending, which happens all too often in otherwise strong novels. This book allows time for a satisfying, reflective, and more realistic conclusion to develop and blossom into a fulfilling resolution. 

While Alyson Richman is mostly known for her historically-based novels, this story also incorporates a historical, environmental disaster that follows the Ukrainian family no matter how far away they go from their home country, adding another layer to this novel. 

In a somewhat nonlinear fashion, this book brilliantly interweaves the tale of a young Ukrainian couple in the 1980s that moves their family to America, with the story of Maggie, a young, idealistic Long Island woman who becomes a teacher from the late 1990s into the 2000s. From very early on, I had an innate connection with Maggie in particular, who also serves as the narrator for a significant part of the story. As a former teacher and current tutor, many of the observations and reflections about teaching that she makes mirror exactly how I felt as a teacher. For this and many other reasons, this book hit me right in the heart, as it would for any person who has children in their lives, either as a parent, caregiver, teacher, or in some other capacity.

As I mentioned, I saw a lot of myself in this book, but perhaps the beauty of this novel is that it has a little something that will connect with anyone who reads it. This novel touches on science, religion, music, craftsmanship, history, art, teaching, love, friendship, heartbreak, sports, reading, writing, and the innocence of youth. I can easily see this book leading to rich and meaningful conversations amongst those who have read it, sharing the wise words of Richman with fellow readers and those who have yet to discover the beauty of this novel.

The Bottom Line:

This multifaceted novel deserves high praise for the ways in which it speaks to the reader and brings its characters to life, as well as its strong and thoughtful plot. The Secret of Clouds imbues every single one of its characters with a richness and depth that can sometimes be lacking in novels with an ensemble of strong yet distinct personalities. Each character plays a vital role in molding the plot and propelling it forward throughout the novel.
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A teacher's love for her student is masterfully told in this sweet and emotional read, The Secret of Clouds.

The book is set mainly in 1999 as the Y2K madness was happening, but for a short while the story goes back to the mid-80s in Kiev as Richman tells the story of Yuri's parents and how they came to move to the US after the disaster at Chernobyl.

In the present storyline, we follow Maggie, who has left her corporate job to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. She is now teaching sixth grade and is asked to help tutor Yuri, who is unable to attend school due to his heart defect. It's slow going at first as Maggie tries to drag Yuri out of his shell, but they soon bond over baseball. I absolutely loved the Mets references! I married a New Yorker so I'm a Mets fan by marriage and our boys love them too. In fact, my 6-year-old wore his Mets hat to school today for "hat day".

The Secret of Clouds is a fantastic tribute to teachers and shows how a child can affect our lives just as much as we affect theirs.

I've been reading quite a few dark and gritty reads lately so this was a welcome change. It was an easy read and I devoured it in a few sittings. This was my first read by Richman (*gasp*) but it won't be my last!

"And yet, I knew that so many languages of love existed. Some forms, however, were more obvious than others. But if you took a step back sometimes, you could find it in the most unlikely places. And the discovery of it was often the greatest reward."
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Alyson Richman has an easy writing style that keeps the reader engaged with the story. This is a fast read about a tutor and her student and the lessons learned and taught. They both have a lot to share about life with each other by their shared experiences. #NetGalley #The Secret of Clouds
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🗣 Calling All Teachers! 🗣This post is for you. You are loved. You are appreciated. You are strong and brave beyond all measure. As a teacher myself, this book tugged on ALL the heart strings! A story about a teacher willing to go the extra mile for a student with a chronic health condition. A story about how our students impact us more than we could ever imagine. A story of family, love, and dedication. As a child with chronic illness, I could also relate to the impact my teachers had on me, something that really reflected throughout the pages of this book. This one hit a homerun! I only wish it was a little more detailed in the emotions, something that I realize is hard to do when you're covering so much time in just one book.
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Have you ever read one of those books that as soon as you finished it you thought “this is the kind of book that can change lives?” This for sure is one of those types of books. I can see this book easily reaching and impacting so many people.

Maggie is a 6th grade English teacher. During her second year of teaching she is asked to home tutor a 6th grade student who is too sick/weak to come into school. While she is initially nervous about accepting the tutoring position, she does so after long discussion with her family. Yuri is the son of two Ukrainian immigrants, Katya and Sasha. Katya used to be a ballerina and Sasha is a scientist. Through Maggie’s tutoring, the family forms a close bond that impacts everybody’s lives.

Maggie is the ideal young English teacher. She is passionate, energized, and still has the rose colored glasses that only comes with being early in your career. She has recently moved out to Long Island with her college boyfriend, so there is also some life stories that occur. Yuri, has a heart condition that causes his weakness. Since he was constantly sick in 5th grade, his doctor has recommended that this year he does not attend school. He is also a baseball fanatic and this comes into play a lot in the story.

I can so easily picture this book becoming a movie. It has multiple inspirational characters including, most obviously, Maggie and Yuri, but also side characters like Maggie’s parents and her close friend Suzie. The story is heartwarming and follows a lot of (for lack of a better term) tropes of movies that can pull on your heartstrings.

There is some drama with Maggie and her college boyfriend Bill that I could’ve done without. I didn’t find that storyline to be necessary. I think that he could’ve been removed completely without any impact on the story. 

Even though the story is relatively predictable, the writing makes this story fly. While it was a little slow to start, once I got into it I couldn’t put this story down. It’s a little hard for me to talk about this book too much because I don’t want to ruin the experience of it for anyone. 

Basically, the writing and the characters are top notch and, with the exception of the love storyline, I can’t find much fault with this book.
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