For Vân Uoc Phan, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing, or pointless. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, for example? Pointless. It always left her feeling sick, as though she’d eaten too much sugar.
Vân Uoc doesn’t believe in fairies, zombies, vampires, Father Christmas – or magic wishes. She believes in keeping a low profile: real life will start when school finishes.
But when she attracts the attention of Billy Gardiner, she finds herself in an unwelcome spotlight.
Not even Jane Eyre can help her now.
Wishes were not a thing.
They were not.
Wishes were a thing.
Wishes that came true were sometimes a thing.
Wishes that came true because of magic were not a thing!
Cloudwish by Fiona Wood can best be described as a light young adult contemporary that almost anyone could relate to on some level. Admittedly, I was drawn in more by the cover of the book than the synopsis when I first came across this title. I know, I know: never judge a book by it’s cover! But in this case, I’m happy to report that it really paid off! I loved this book!
Amid the slew of young adult thriller and suspense novels that I’ve recently been reading, Cloudwish was a welcome change of pace. While I previously described the book as light YA fiction, this does not mean that Fiona Wood neglects depth in the story. On the contrary, Wood does an excellent job of drawing attention to important issues such as the struggles and oppression faced by refugees. As the reader, I got to explore not only Vân Uoc’s struggles, but also learned about the heartbreaking past of her parents. While I have never personally experienced being a refugee, I know quite a few people who have and I felt as though the author did a wonderful job of staying true to the realities faced by refugee populations.
On a lighter (yet still relevant) note, Wood also delves into the idea of social hierarchies. As a scholarship student at a prestigious private school, Vân Uoc is the typical top-of-the-class student with good grades and a vision for her future. She knows her place in the social hierarchy of her school; yet, she can’t help but be attracted to Billy, the “alpha male” of the school. What happens next is both cliched and nonconformist: Billy starts to fall for Vân Uoc.
Personally, I had expected Cloudwish to be a predictable story about first-love and high school crushes. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the author has so much more to offer the reader. You will get your atypical love story fix with a nice side order of overcoming adversity and self-exploration.
While I would not describe Cloudwish as a page-turner (at least not in comparison to the YA thriller that I just read…) I still found it to be a captivating story. Cloudwish is the perfect leisurely book with a gentle pace that I found quite comforting during a stressful week. If you’re looking for a nice relaxing book that still deals with important topics, look no further than Cloudwish.
Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.