The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

The Secret of Clouds

Alyson Richman

Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher, agrees to tutor Yuri at his home. 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.

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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.

Advance Galley Reviews

The Secret of Clouds is a gem of realistic fiction! Maggie Topper is a perfectionist as the main character, a sixth grade Language Arts teacher in Long Island, New York. She is totally devoted to her students, including Yuri, a boy who has a heart defect. I identified with this novel because I taught students with health issues, when they were too weak to attend school. The intended audience certainly is aimed at teachers and female readers. Other interesting topics in the story include violin making, baseball, ballet, and the Russian Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

I had some trouble getting into this book; it seemed like just another teacher has bad relationship, meets another teacher, fall in love, with a sick child thrown in. I soon realized that this was more. It’s a love story but not romantic love, though there is some of that. Yuri is a middle school child with a severe heart condition. Maggie is the teacher sent to tutor him. At first she resists but his strength, determination and beauty despite his illness changes her life and the way she views life and love. She falls in love with him, his spirit and courage. And ultimately she feels the loss of that love deeply. Every mother, every teacher will feel her highs and lows. It’s not a perfect book. The dialogue is sometimes contrived; going to Italy to conceive a child felt unnecessary. But I did enjoy it

A sweet touching novel of a boy and his dedicated teacher. It was emotional and well written but fell just short of gripping your heart and tearing it from your chest. It's a story meant to bring out the emotional heart-wrenching ugly cry but falls short of truly achieving that. Some vital piece was missing for me. I wanted to really love the book but it was an overall good read, not a love of all parts separately.

I know many loved this book, but The Secret of Clouds was not for me. I loved the premise of the book but I found the writing a bit tortured and the tone overly sentimental. Most of the supporting characters are not well developed, either, which further hindered my enjoyment.

I struggled a bit initially with this book - I wasn't entirely sure I was going to appreciate what I thought would be a "baseball" book. But it was so much more than that - it was a sweet story about life and love and living your dreams while you're able. It was a great example of the mark that a good teacher can leave on your life (and how students can affect a good teacher). It was predictable - almost annoyingly predictable every step of the way.

I had a feeling about 20 pages in this would be an emotional read, and sure enough I was right. Whether you are a parent or not, I think it would be hard not to develop an attachment to a sick child. Yuri for sure is what drove the story. Maggie, a young teacher, has agreed to help tutor Yuri, a boy who is not able to attend school due to his heart condition. His parents, Sasha and Katya, left Ukraine to live in America after the Chernobyl disaster. While Maggie is busy teaching Yuri reading and writing, she just might learn a thing or two from him as well. This is the second book I have read recently in which a teacher does a writing assignment in which the children write a letter to their future selves. In this case, Maggie will send the sixth grade students' letters to them when they graduate high school. How the letters factor in later on in the story and when the secret of the clouds is revealed are really some touching and beautiful moments. The difference a good and passionate teacher can make in a child's life is also part of the appeal of this book. While I did enjoy this book there was just something holding it back from being a 5 star read for me. The Maggie parts of the story that did not involve Yuri were the weakest in my opinion. I agree with another reviewer that it felt like any problem she faced was just magically resolved or moved on from without another mention. I just can't say I warmed up to the character 100%. Honestly though this is more nitpicking than anything as I did overall think this was a good read. So much so I finished it in a day. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy!

The Secret of Clouds an enjoyable, quick read. If you like adventure and excitement this is not the book for you. But if you like to contemplate everyday relationships and the sometimes complex decisions that affect those relationships you will like this book. Told from the point of view of a teacher and the parents of her student in flashbacks to their life in Kiev. Some parts of the book felt like additional filler rather than pertaining to the main story being told and I lost some interest. The end was rather predictable but decent.

The Secret of Clouds is a sweet and touching novel. I enjoyed reading about Yuri so much; he was a great kid! However, and I'm the minority here, I felt the book was mostly too "fairytale" for me. It seemed each time an obstacle arose for Maggie a solution usually somewhat kitschy or cliche would just appear and work. I don't know - it just didn't feel like there was as much struggle as you'd likely feel with a novel facing the types of adversity this one does. Speaking of adversity, the author took on a LOT of heavy topics in this novel and I felt like only one or two (Yuri's and Katya's/Sasha's) got covered very well. Everything else was very top level and superficial, and I felt like maybe there was just too much getting shoved into one novel. Again, I'm the minority here, most loved the novel so definitely give it a try if the description speaks to you (I did enjoy it - it just wasn't the 5 stars for me that everyone else seems to be giving it).


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