Sunday 3 August 2014

Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather

Finished July 30
Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather by Pierre Szalowski

This novel is set around the 1998 ice storm that hit Montreal. The 11-year-old boy who narrates the story is the kind of kid who notices what goes on around him.
He can see that the Christmas present his dad bought him is something his mother didn't approve. He can see that his parents aren't getting along like they used to. He doesn't want to be another kid whose parents aren't together, like his friend Alex. But it looks like that is what is going to happen. So he prays to the sky to help him.
And then the ice storm hits, and it gets worse and worse. We see how it affects his neighbours. Julie, the disaffected stripper to only wants to be loved for something other than her body. Julie's young cat Brutus, whom her other two cats put in his place. Boris, the young Russian mathematician who has been observing and calibrating his fishes behaviour for months, and for whom a power failure is a potential disaster. Simon, a psychoanalyst, and Michel, who works for the weather office, an older gay couple whom everyone thinks are brothers, and who worry about how coming out will affect the way neighbours treat them. Pipo, Simon and Michel's little dog. Alex and his unhappy father Alexis. The residents of the seniors' home just down the street.
So, you might expect a book about this natural disaster, that affected millions of people, would be unhappy one, but it isn't. The storm brought people out of their homes, had them helping neighbours they hadn't even talked to before, opening people's hearts to new friends, unveiling leadership skills that had been buried until now. And so these neighbours get to know each other and find that they like each other and the feeling of good will towards each grows and strengthens and extends to others.
The author experienced a similar community-building phenomenon when he and his wife experience the ice storm shortly after moving to Montreal, and it is this that made then stay in Canada, and inspired this novel.
This is a feel-good novel, that will bring a smile to your face.


  1. Love your review. I've always been drawn to disaster/survival novels, but it's the characters you describe that intrigues me about this one. I'll be looking for this one at the library! Thanks.

  2. I liked this one; having been in Montreal during the Ice Storm made it particularly interesting to me, but I thought the characters were cute too.