Reviews for The secret of clouds

Library Journal
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Katya and Sasha Krasny immigrated to America from Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the catastrophe had an insurmountable effect on their family. Maggie Topper is a second-year sixth grade teacher in New York. Noting that she’s a patient and caring teacher, the principal makes a special request of her to tutor a student in need after school. Yuri Krasny has a rare medical condition that is keeping him from attending school in person this year. Initially, Maggie has a difficult time getting Yuri to open up, but as the year continues, teacher and student form a tight bond and are frequently learning from each other. Yuri possesses a singular and older-than-his-years perspective on life while Maggie begins to reflect on her own life and is drawn to make big changes. When the unthinkable happens, everyone is shaken and relationships may be irreparably broken. VERDICT In a change from the historical fiction of her previous works, ­Richman (The Lost Wife) writes a captivating and heartrending contemporary novel of making unexpected friendships and living life to its fullest. For fans of Marie Bostwick and Karen White.—Melissa Keegan, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In Richman's affecting latest (after The Velvet Hours, 2016), new teacher Maggie is assigned to tutor a chronically ill student in his home in an effort to keep him classroom ready, should his health improve. Maggie finds herself drawn to the boy, Yuri, and eager to find ways to connect with him. She finally stumbles onto baseball 11-year-old Yuri is obsessed with the sport. At the same time, Maggie develops a friendship with Yuri's young mother, Katya. In flashbacks to Katya's life before Yuri's birth, the reader learns that she was a dance student in her native Kiev in 1986, when the Chernobyl meltdown occurred. She and her husband fear their exposure to the nuclear fallout may have resulted in Yuri's rare heart condition. Before Maggie knows it, her whole life is changing based on her time tutoring Yuri, in a powerful statement on the effect that teachers and students can have on one another. With lyrical writing and a compelling story, and featuring discussion topics and even recipes, this book is tailor-made for book groups.--Diana Platt Copyright 2019 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

This devastating novel from Richman (The Velvet Hours) revolves around a sixth grade teacher and her relationship with a sickly child whom she tutors. In 1999, Maggie Topper leaves the hustle and bustle of the New York public relations world to become a teacher on Long Island. In her second year, she's asked to tutor Yuri Krasny, whose congenital heart condition forces him to spend his life in bed and in seclusion at home. Finding common ground in baseball, the two connect, and Maggie becomes increasingly enchanted by Yuri, whose positive attitude belies his serious illness. Throughout, the author brings in the backstory of Yuri's Ukrainian immigrant parents-his delicate mother's quashed ballet career, his father's persecution for being Jewish in the U.S.S.R.-that resulted in the family moving to the U.S. Meanwhile, Maggie's six-year relationship with college boyfriend Bill implodes just as Daniel, a charismatic new music teacher, joins the faculty of her school. Their inevitable relationship is predictable, but this tear-jerker is bolstered by Richman's perspective on how teachers and students can learn from each other, resulting in a heartening tale. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.