Review Blog

Sep 09 2015

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

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Pan Macmillan, 2015. ISBN 9781743533123 (Age 12+) Highly recommended. Adolescent. Van Uoc Phan makes a wish at a creative writing class - a wish that gorgeous Billy Gardiner would notice her. But when he does start talking to her she is unsure whether he is doing it to set up an elaborate joke, as he often does, or whether he is really interested in her. And even though Van Uoc doesn't believe in fairies, or wishes, there is a small doubt about whether the little vial that she wished on, could make a wish come true. Loosely connected with some characters from her award winning Six impossible things and Wildlife, Wood has written a fabulous story that was impossible to put down. Van Uoc is the daughter of Vietnamese boat people, who have high expectations that she will go to university and get a much better job that her parents have. A scholarship girl at the exclusive private school, Van Uoc's life is organised fully with study, helping out at homework club and having one night off to watch movies with her friend Jess. When Billy starts paying attention to her she finds herself out of her comfort zone and doing some things that she hasn't dreamt of doing. The reader becomes immersed in Van Uoc's life, getting to know the trauma that the boat people went through to gain a better life through her mother who is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and empathising with Van Uoc who is caught between two worlds, translating English for her parents, while not knowing Vietnamese well enough to be fluent in it. The homework club that Van Uoc helps out at also gives an insight into the lives of refugees and just how hard it is to leave loved ones in search of a better life often for the children in the family. Billy too grows as a person, as he gets to know Van Uoc and it was great to see Lou and Michael from Wildlife keeping an eye on Van Uoc and making sure that Billy wasn't playing games with her. Van Uoc uses the novel Jane Eyre as a guide to what she should do in certain circumstances. She uses the strength of Jane as a model and both she and her friend Jess use quotes out of the classic to fit what is happening in their lives. This would make an ideal class text or literature circle book, as there are many things to discuss - class, plight of refugees, post-traumatic stress, and family expectations. Above all it is just a fabulous novel to read, enjoy and think about. Pat Pledger

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