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 Change Direction in Cold Weather follows the timeline of the great ice storm that hit North America and left thousands without power. It’s a short and simple story in which a crisis brings a community together; or really creates a community where none existed before. I felt some of the stories were a bit predictable but it’s a sweet little book for this time of year and there were a few humorous moments.

The title comes from the story of the Russian mathematician, Boris and his story was my favourite. He is conducting research on knot theory for his PhD using his fish, which need to stay at exactly the same temperature for his results to remain valid. When the power goes out he needs to find a way to heat the water which leads him to calling on the stripper next door.

I do think it lends itself as a Christmas read, with the un-named boy’s discovery that Santa isn’t real at the start, the icy weather and the all a little bit too convenient scenarios. I think we are a little bit more lenient with plots if it’s festive! However the book is not released in the UK until January.

Originally written in French by Pierre Szakowski, this edition of Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather has been translated into English by Alison Anderson. Published by Canongate, it will be available in paperback and ebook formats on 3rd January 2013. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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