Review: ‘Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather’ – Pierre Szalowski

It’s about time I reviewed my February book since I read it about three weeks ago. The book was Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather by Pierre Szalowski. (Possible spoiler alert.)

Cover of 'Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather'

It has a gorgeous cover, which is one of the first things that attracted me to it, along with the odd title and the blurb on the back. A boy, whose parents have decided to divorce, asks the sky for help and an ice storm hits the city the next day. While the storm rages on, neighbours have to open their doors to each other, creating unlikely friendships and relationships. The sky seems to be bringing together all sorts of people, but what about his parents? It is described as a story that ‘reminds us that happy endings might still be possible’. Perhaps I shouldn’t then have been surprised by the ending, but I must be becoming a jaded old adult after all.

On a positive note, the book was hilarious in parts. I especially liked the Russian, Boris, and his fish. The relationship that developed between Simon and Alexis was credible and amusing. I also liked being able to work out that the song Alexis often mumbled was a French version of ‘I Got You Babe’. Thank you, undergrad degree.

However, one of the reading questions that followed was: why do you think the author never tells us the boy’s name? Well, to be honest, I didn’t notice until the character himself pointed it out at the end. I know that’s quite unobservant of me, but I think I would have appreciated realising it myself when thinking about the book later on, rather than being told at the end, ‘Oh look how clever I was! I got through a whole story without telling you my name and it’s not really important now, is it?’ If you want certain messages (the boy could be anybody, it’s a universal story and all that jazz) in your novel, it is never wise to thump the reader over the head with them. Be a little more subtle.

Apart from that, it was an enjoyable read, if a little ‘light’. Read it if you’ve just finished a book that was a bit of an effort, or if you know you’ll be short on time to read for a week. It could be one to pass on to someone else rather than read again, and for that reason it gets 3.5 stars from me.

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