The Secret of Clouds

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

The lives of Katya, Sasha, and Yuri intersect with Maggie, a devoted English teacher, when Maggie provides homeschooling to Yuri twice a week.  Maggie looks for the spark in her students and introduces Yuri to the book "Shoeless Joe Jackson" as a way to inspire him.  The year Maggie spends teaching Yuri creates a chain of events that causes changes not only in Yuri but in his family and in Maggie.
I enjoyed reading this book but thought the ending was forced when compared to the rest of the book.
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Well written, touching story. The reader feels like they are part of the story and it is easy to get invested in the characters and their struggles. Katya is such an interesting character; I felt a real kinship for her, despite the fact that I have never done ballet or lived in an Eastern Bloc country. As a mother and an educator, I thought that both of those elements were thoughtfully done.
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A rising ballerina and a graduate student fall in love in Kiev. After they move to the United States and have a son, he has a rare disease that changes them forever. Well written, great characters.
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The Secret of Clouds is such a wonderful novel that I have recommended it for book clubs of several different demographics. Richman creates fully developed characters who the reader can easily identify with, regardless of their age, gender identity, or hometown. To relate to these characters, all you need is humanity. A wonderful read.
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Wonderful book, loved the story. Brilliant characters.  sometimes we find  that others give us strength to face obstacles
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In 1986 a young couple Sasha and Katya are living in Kiev when the Chernobyl accident happened. Sasha was a student and his wife was a ballerina. They left their home and immigrated to America. They have a son in America, Yuri and his heart has a malformation and he needs surgery but it is very risky. His health is declining. Maggie a young teacher is asked by her principal to tutor Yuri at his home. A friendship develops between Maggie and Yuri and his family. At the end of the book, I felt like Yuri became the teacher and Maggie the student. Great book. Touching and thought-provoking.
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I was hoping to enjoy this more, given so many high ratings on Goodreads, but while there were some things I liked about it, it fell short of being a story that will be memorable for me. Maggie Topper is a teacher charged with tutoring an eleven year old boy, Yuri, who has a heart condition that keeps him from attending school. They develop a relationship that affects both of them in a positive way. My emotions were certainly touched at times, but other times, it felt melodramatic. I loved some of the characters, especially Yuri and his parents Sasha and Katya who immigrated from Kiev just before Yuri is born, but mostly the characters were just too goody-goody, especially Maggie. There are two story lines. Yuri and his family’s story was the one that I wanted to keep reading about. Maggie’s romance story was pretty mundane and predictable. I’m a baseball fan, so Yuri’s love of baseball and the bond he shares with his father and his friend Finn was lovely to see, but Maggie trying to connect with Yuri over baseball was commendable but felt forced. The writing was simplistic and the dialogue ho hum. I did love the writing assignments Maggie gives to her students and reading them was a highlight of the book for me. While I was surprised at one thing that happens, for the most part it was predictable. I have to admit that overall it ended up being a good reprieve from some other tough books I’ve read recently, but not one that I loved. There’s pretty much a thing that didn’t work for me for every one that did, so right down the middle- 3 stars.

This was the December read with Diane and Esil, and we always have a good discussion. You’ll have to read their reviews to see if we felt the same. 

  I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkeley through NetGalley.
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This was one of those books where so much was happening and all of it was unrelated--except that it was all happening in the life of one young teacher whose modest life is forever altered by one student who has a broken heart. The book felt very realistic in that way, dramatized, of course, but overall very real, and it really made me think about each human life being a small cog in the giant machine of existence. I realize that sounds philosophical, but that is the tone of this beautiful story: the philosophy and drama of of everyday living. 
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my truthful review.
With that in mind, I will say that I think the title change was a good idea; The Secret of Clouds feels much less pigeon-holing to the story than The Family Cloud.
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This book hit very close to home as I also work in a middle school.  Although you kind of knew what the end might be, it was well thought out, with good pieces of history thrown in.  The main characters were heartfelt, and very real.  Would recommend it to everyone!
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Great novel for teachers--this is an inspiring story that reminds us of why we choose to work with kids.
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I really enjoyed this book. As a teacher, the voice of Maggie wasn't forced or fake- the issues she described were true to life. Sometimes it is easy to overlook why you become a teacher when you are bogged down by the naysayers and the difficult constraints. This book served as a reminder as to why we do what we do. There were some assignments she gave to her students that I actually adapted for my own classroom. I liked the weaving of the two stories together and thought that all of the characters were well rounded. Recently I've struggled to find novels that have a character you want to "root for" but there was no absence in this story. I felt the story of Yuri's family was better written and while there were predictable aspects, it was a nice story for this time of year. A reminder to live life and appreciate the little things. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This book is a great story! I think it is an overall beautiful book! Without trying to give away any spoilers. This book is about a teacher and one her pupils who is sick, and the lessons she learns from him.
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The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman.  A pleasant story with likeable characters however, it was hard to get into and stay interested in reading.   

Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.
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Heartwarming story of exploration, emotional turmoil, and resignation when everything possible is not enough.  Lovely story.
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Maggie is in her second year as an intermediate grade language teacher. She is asked to tutor a special needs boy, Yuri, who has a heart defect. He needs to be at home to lessen the occurrence of infection. As the two of them make a connection through their knowledge of baseball, their lives are intertwined in their daily journals and as they discuss books like Shoeless Joe which was the ice breaker. This is beautiful written story of compassion...have a tissue ready.
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Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “The Secrets of Clouds” by Alyson Richman  , Berkley, February, 2019

WOW!! I loved everything about Alyson Richman’s novel “The Secret of Clouds”, and I feel that she has absolutely outdone herself.  Alyson Richman is an amazing storyteller, and I appreciate the way that she vividly describes her colorful cast of characters, and her landscape. Noted is the unique and fantastic way that the author appeals to our senses through Music, Art, Literature, Song and Dance.

The Genres for this story are Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction. There is also some Historical background from the Ukraine.  The author describes her characters as complex, and complicated perhaps due to the circumstances. Alyson Richman pays full tribute and thanks to all teachers in the profession that have touched the lives of so many children, and children who have touched the hearts and lives of their teachers. As a retired teacher with over 36 years of experience, I just wanted to jump into the book and have a discussion about Journal Writing with the characters, and visit with the children.

Katya , a ballerina and Sasha, a scientist fall in love in Kiev. When a tragedy occurs, there is an opportunity for both to come to the United States. As a result of the incident, their son Yuri is born with an illness that forces him to stay at home. Maggie, a motivated and eager young teacher is asked by her administration to tutor Yuri in her subject matter which is English. Maggie often finds that Yuri will look outside longingly, at the birds and sky.  Yuri, although a child has wisdom beyond his years, and has a love of baseball.

Katya is a protective mom, and want to keep her son safe. Maggie wants to give Yuri the opportunity to experience and grow, and Yuri wants the freedom to be able to live.

I highly recommend this intriguing, intense, emotional, captivating, riveting and amazing book to all readers who enjoy a fantastic story. Bravo to Alyson Richman for a wonderful novel that discusses, dreams, love, and hope. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
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As a middle school English teacher, Maggie is asked to tutor Yuri, a young boy with a heart defect.  He and Maggie bond over his love of the N.Y. Yankees and his keen mind.  This is a memorable story that is sure to become a classic.  Alyson Richman has created a warm story of love, bravery and kindness.  Not to be missed.
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Since I work with future teachers, I fear reading this mawkish and overly sentimental book might cause people to flee from the classroom and from developing close relationships with students. 

Sadly, I could have predicted the story from the moment it started. I have loved Richman’s earlier novels do I was saddened by the lack of originality.

There is a level of manipulation that I don’t appreciate as a reader or a teacher. 

So, this is a novel that I would not recommend to any of the seminars or educational organizations I work with.
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I selected this book to review because one of the main characters is a teacher. I was curious to see if the author would have a true understanding of what a teacher's life was like, and how they would portray a teacher in today's world. I needn't been concerned, Alyson Richman does beautifully in looking at how a teacher's life can be intertwined with her students.



From the publisher:
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 is my first novel by Alyson Richman. What a gift it was to read her delicious prose. The characters, a caring and compassionate teacher, a gifted and mature-beyond-his-years student, and a married couple with a tragic past. The story is artfully woven, showing us the life of a young teacher as she navigates teaching and a relationship, then introducing us to a student suffering from a disease that does not allow him to attend school and then his parents, stricken with their son's illness, a past that is difficult to understand is still happening in the world. We get to watch the story unfold as the teacher brings her skills to work to improve the life of her student. While the story is so much more than a teacher and her student, it was through this lense that I read the story, having been a teacher myself.

I highly recommend this book to all those who love an endearing story.  This is a deeply personal story of courage, love, and the circle of life.
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I have to pass on reviewing this book. I put it down halfway through. I found no dramatic tension whatever. The narrator's school principal, husband, friends, and Yuri's parents seem to support her unconditionally. You'd expect Yuri to be difficult but he is mostly just a sweet boy. No doubt the stakes get raised toward the end, but I wasn't willing to wait that long to find out.
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