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Review of Cloudwish

wood_cloudwishCloudwish
by Fiona Wood
High School    Poppy/Little, Brown    309 pp.
10/16    978-0-316-24212-7    $18.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-316-24211-0    $9.99

The Australian author’s third novel focuses on two minor characters from Wildlife (rev. 11/14). Vân U’ó’c Phan is a hardworking scholarship student, an artist, and the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who expect her to become a doctor. Vân U’ó’c’s longtime secret crush, the ridiculously good-looking Billy Gardiner, is a popular athlete, a carefree prankster, and a privileged white guy. When Billy suddenly shows an interest in her, Vân U’ó’c is sure it’s part of an elaborate joke but soon finds he has a serious side and, like her, feels smothered by parental expectations. As satisfying and accurate as the teen love story feels, the exploration of Vân U’ó’c’s mixed feelings toward her parents is even more emotionally compelling. Her mother suffers from PTSD, and her parents refuse to talk about their horrific refugee experience, the details of which Vân U’ó’c both does and does not want to know. The pressure on her to succeed is stifling but, at the same time, her parents are her heroes. Her other hero is Jane Eyre — like her, Jane is “inconspicuous…but her presence is strong.” A bit of magical realism involving a wish (Vân U’ó’c’s name translates to “Cloudwish”) helps enhance the plot and adds a touch of mystery. Wildlife fans will rejoice to see Michael, Sibylla, and Lou (who also appeared in Six Impossible Things, rev. 9/15) here, too, and will hope for more stories from this small universe of connected characters.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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  1. I enjoyed this article. Great stuff!

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