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Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather
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Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,694 ratings  ·  222 reviews
When his parents split up, and his dad leaves home, a ten-year-old boy begs the sky to help him. The next day an ice storm covers his city. When the power goes out and the temperature drops, people must turn to each other to survive.

But for one neighbourhood the catastrophe brings surprising new beginnings. Julie, the dancer who lives across the street, helps Boris, an ec
Paperback, 246 pages
Published January 3rd 2013 by Canongate UK (first published January 1st 2000)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,694 ratings  ·  222 reviews

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Hilary G
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
In the street where you live is there a bizarre mixture of characters such as a stripper, a Russian mathematician writing a thesis about the trajectories of fish, a depressed ex-musician bringing up the son of a Mexican singer, a gay couple so afraid of what their neighbours might think they never go out of the house together? I doubt it. If there aren't any normal people, how do you know the others are weird? The only vaguely real character in this fairy tale (not sure what else to call it) is ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
Oh dear, disappointing to the point of irritation. It looked intriguing, a French Canadian novel billed as an "International Bestseller," when I picked it up in a London bookshop. But - so childishly written that I wonder if it was not aimed at adolescents like the narrator, rather than the adult fiction table. Sentimental and simplistic to my mind, rather the "hilarious and heartwarming," of the cover copy. The story of an ice storm bringing out the best in everyone, could have been a charming ...more
Natalie O'Donnell
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
A pretty simple story written in a very basic style.

The female characters are so two dimensional i can only assume the author doesn't know any. By the end this aspect was so irritating it overwhelmed anything else that was going on in the book. The women seemed to be there solely to stand around watching their men get more manly.
Saar The Book owl
The cover was promissing and the résumé also, but that was it sadly...
The author made the story look like a misplaced Christmas story as it started on Christmas day.
There's a bizarre mix of characters: a stripper, a Russian mathematician, 2 men who pretend to be brothers, but are in fact lovers, but scared to come out...Th most normal character was the nameless 11 year old boy who told the story.
The author tried to use a bit of humor, but it didn't stick.
I've read the Dutch translation, but I st
Linnéa Lindberg
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swedish
An unexpected feelgood that has it all, without being stereotyped whatsoever. It's more clever and curious. I strongly recommend it for when you want a book with a happy ending but without all the Hollywood hetero clichés. ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Just finished this book. It was on my wishlist, so I had high expectations. Because of that, it was a bit of a disappointment, because it couldn't really catch my attention. At the same time, it does have its charm. It also was a bit over-the-top, but that is probably a matter of taste. ...more
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: translated
In a Montreal suburb a boy’s parents are getting divorced. When his father moves out, he asks the sky to help him. The next day the temperature plunges and freezing rain brings the city to a standstill. On a street where everyone keeps to themselves, the extreme weather and power cuts starts to bring people together. The exotic dancer, the reclusive mathematician and his fish, the gay couple and the boy’s best friend. The sky appears to be helping everyone but him.

Set in January of 1998, Fish Ch
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
More of a delightful fairytale than a novel, Pierre Szalowski’s Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather (FCDICW)delivered a real feel good factor.

FCDICW focuses on a group of neighbours in a street in Montreal whose lives and relationships are changed irrevocably after a freak ice storm forces them together in more ways than one. I won’t say any more for fear of giving away spoilers, but from the very first page it’s clear that this book is going to be one with a happy ending.

At just under 250 pag
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, read-in-2015
This is both the coldest and the warmest book I've ever read and with this kind of review you can already get an idea on how beautiful is the book.

As a typical contemporary french language story, there are many characters that have some relationship between themselves. In this case, all of the characters are neighbours of a same building. Snow and rain hit hard the Québec for several days and people have to stay at home. Some run out of supplies. Some have enough to share for some time. And that
This book has lots of exclamation points! At least one a page! More often two or three! Sometimes four or more! It is distracting, especially as the sentiments of the pointed sentences do not always warrant such a punctuation mark!

This book also has: Alexandra, Alexandria (twins with a very minor role in the book), Alexis, and Alex (father and son with major roles in the book), Julien and Julie (the former with only a small role, the latter with a main role) ! There are only ten main characters
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
When I first read the synopsis of this book, I thought this would be a nice and easy read to read over the week, but the style of writing left me a little confused at times and it was all over the place particularly in the middle of the book.

While the characters aren't similar to each other at all, nothing really unique stands out about them other than Boris and Julie, and I felt towards the end, they no longer had that uniqueness that made them stand out in the beginning. The story itself is an
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a recent French class, and was happy with the teacher's choice. The French was difficult enough for me that I had to look up several words on each page (and hence learn some new vocab), but simple enough that I could easily understand what was going on. Set during the real life ice storm of 1998 in Quebec, it deals with several characters that live in adjacent apartments, and their interactions during the events of the storm. Needless to say, there is romance, friendships formed, ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Brown
Jun 09, 2020 rated it liked it
A really enjoyable read, that began with me having no idea what to really think about it, except to link it to The Ice Storm, that dreadfully boring film where Elijah Wood gets electrocuted and then slides down the icy road. This is nothing like that, it’s actually good, it’s funny, it’s heart-warming, it’s fairly simple, and the underlining message as portrayed by the titular fish is quite easy to spot and grasp from the beginning.
Aug 03, 2020 rated it liked it
A heartwarming and touching story.
The book is written in a light, funny, natural way, and is full of good vibes. It reminds us that it's not all doom and gloom, and restores faith in human kindness. Yes, it is predictable and the story is so cute it makes it hard to believe, but what's wrong with happy endings? We need more of those in real life! In a world full of violence, hate speech and idiots for leaders, we could use some more incurable optimism and positive thinking.
Grant Gallaher
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Very unrealistic game of Monopoly in the chapter "Can You Fix It For Me?" The father rolls double sixes on the first turn and somehow lands on Chance, even though the twelfth space is Electric Company. He immediately rolls another 12 and lands not on Illinois Avenue but Community Chest.

Either the characters are all very bad at counting, they're playing with a non-regulation board, or the author/translator didn't do their due research.
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like this book for its magic realism and also for its metaphors, starting with the title. Peppered throughout the book there are ways the writer makes sense of it all, for example, "love is like a taxi" and "a true confession is like a Greek tragedy". I only started to notice this half way through the book so I probably missed others near the beginning. ...more
Nofar Spalter
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
An easy read and optimistic, almost sickly sweet book. Very French in its attitudes, particularly towards women and sex. If you need a pick me up in this dark world, then this novel is for you. Sometimes that's all you need from a book. ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: transleighteen
I think this wants to be one of those cute quirky translated stories but it doesn’t quite pull it off, the tone at the beginning isn’t quite right and there’s no surprises. I picked it up thinking it was middle grade or young YA but it’s not quite that either so I am not sure who it is aimed at.
Ophélie Véron
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
A beautiful cover but that's pretty much it. I love happy endings, but this book was so sugary that I struggled to finish it. Shallow characters, cheesy dialogues, cheap sentiments. I guess that at least it was harmless. ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it liked it
A cosy, charming story, full of likeable characters although I didn't find it particularly funny. At certain points it all got a bit too treacly for me, then I felt as guilty as if I'd caused the bloody ice storm. ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Sweet fable about neighbours who come together during a Canadian ice storm. The time brings huge life changes to all the characters.
Beatrix Minkov
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unhauled, read-2018, dnf
DNF at 75%. I couldn't care less. ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Cute story, a series of characters looking for love, but unengaging and simplistic with adolescent boy-style sexual references. Suitable if you just want a light easy read, nothing more.
Helen Cosford
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
A heartwarming read.
When I say that this book is only slightly better than John Green's Let it Snow, I think I say it all ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnfed
I bought this book from a secondhand bookshop in Newcastle a few years ago but no matter how many times I tried I never seemed to get more than a dozen pages in.
Andi Fruhwirth
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such a sweet, feel good read. Nice and easy read.
Darrel Hofland
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such a heart warming story.

A drastic ice storm hits... brings people together.

Very much like.. coronvirus... hopefully bringing people together...
Debbie Walker
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it
A nice book to read whilst in lockdown, a simple story, not requiring high levels of concentration and with a happy ending, what more can you ask at this time.
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