Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather

Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather by Pierre Szalowski

(Canongate, 2012)


Set in Montreal in the late 90s, a young boy asks the sky for help when his parents split up. Little does he expect the ice storm and power cuts that follow. It turns out to be a blessing in disguise for several neighbours. But will the protagonist’s parents get back together?

This book is sweet and uplifting. The name definitely enticed me to pick it up. While the story itself didn’t blow me away, it is a quick, enjoyable read. At times Szalowski is writing as a young boy, at other times as a Russian mathematical genius, and at still others as a fed-up lap dancer. Some of the characters are stereotypical and feel a bit… flat. I still cared enough about them to continue though. But I’m not sure why there had to be so many characters with ‘Alex’-based names. That was irritating.

The ending was very much a ‘happy ever after’ affair. Which sometimes it’s just nice to read about! Sometimes you want everyone to be happy. Even if you don’t think that would happen in real life (read: the father contacting the long-lost love of his life… the way that panned out just felt lazy. It certainly wasn’t realistic but then neither were many aspects of the book. But that particular turn just didn’t sit well.)

My favourite thing about it was the reason for the title and the accompanying analogy. It was quite lovely to see how such a big catastrophe brought a community together, how people helped each other out. I believe the overarching message was along this line and perhaps ‘get to know your neighbour!’

Overall, it’s an enjoyable read, none too taxing – not going to change your world, but not a bad way to pass a few hours.


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