A review by wordssearched
Cloud and Wallfish, by Anne Nesbet


I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book right up until the end, when—crying—I decided that I loved it. That's the best end to any reading journey and the reason I gave this book five stars. This moving story about an American boy whose parents whisk him away to East Germany in 1989, changing his name and age in the process, is a kind of spy novel/historical fiction thriller for kids. It's also a story of friendship that beautifully captures what it is like to see your small world change while the larger one is too and living through history knowing something big is happening but not quite understanding what it is.

There are pauses at the end of each chapter where the author breaks the fourth wall and offers a bit of historical context, and I first I didn't like them, fearing that they would continually take me out of the story. But as the novel moves along we learn that this fragmentation is how Noah himself organizes information in his intriguing mind.

People my age, who were the same age as the kids in the book during the fall of the iron curtain, might find it extra poignant now that we're parents. In fact, I questioned Noah's parents' choices throughout--which tells you how well Nesbet pulls us into the mind of Noah (aka Wallfish) who only begins to accept his new life when he meets Claudia (aka Cloud), who is living through her own trauma. This is a great book for anyone interested in this era of history or who needs the reminder that war also happens to children.