Author: Fiona Wood
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: 25th August 2015
Rating: 4/5 stars
For Vân Uoc Phan, fantasies fell 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!
I wasn’t sure how much ‘magic’ would be in this book. I think the blurb implies more of a fantasy element than there really is. Instead of a magic realism story, this book reminded me very strongly of Laurinda – both books are set in Melbourne and their protagonists are Australian-Vietnamese girls on scholarships at prestigious schools.
Vân Uoc was an incredibly likeable, realistic character. Her fears and hopes were those I experienced as a school girl. She was incredibly intelligent, but also rather insecure. Who hasn’t ever wondered if a boy is really into them, or if he just thinks it’s funny to string you along?
Billy Gardiner is the quintessential Australian male and the most popular guy in Vân Uoc’s class. First day back at school, the class has a slightly weird creative writing class, in which Vân Uoc wished for Billy Gardiner’s attention. And that’s what she got. But is it real? Or is it all just the product of magic? What can Vân Uoc believe? (She did become a little obsessive for a moment there, but it calmed down!)
The romance is fairly pure, uncontaminated by the pressures of sex. There is one very small scene where the kissing progresses into a bit of touching, but sex is not a major focus. It was nice to see a teenage romance where the characters’ main point of contact was the walk home. I always get confused when young adults somehow have the resources to go on AMAZING dates, and the parents never ever get in the way! Parents definitely get in the way here! Vân Uoc’s parents don’t believe in dating in school, and Billy’s mother is a little bit of a racist snob.
Cloudwish is a pretty easy read, yet beautifully written. It explores a lot of major themes, such as refugees, parental expectations and teenage romance. Fiona Wood has created a fantastic character to deal with these issues and Vân Uoc’s voice resonated strongly with me as the reader.
A perfect book for fans of Alice Pung’s Laurinda or Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi.