Hillybilly Elegy by J.D. Vance Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Hillybilly Elegy by J. D. Vance; HarperCollins, 2016. 264 pages; $27.99 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This is a “travelogue” in the spirit of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Our tour guide is James Donald/David Bowman/Hamel/Vance (the names reflecting the revolving door of fathers in the author’s life). Writing his memoir at the tender age… [Read More]

Edith Wharton: Traditional or Modern?

A recent Wall Street Journal article takes on a key question raised in Edith Wharton’s 1920 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Age of Innocence. She writes it with one foot planted in the sureties of the Edwardian garden party that preceded World War I and the other perched precariously on the shifting ground of the… [Read More]

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf; Knopf, 2015. 179 pages; $24.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This tale begins the day Addie Moore (a 70-year-old widow) approaches Louis Waters (a 70-year-old widower) with a proposition: would he like to come to her house and sleep beside her each night, just to talk and ease the… [Read More]

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Europa Editions, 2012.  331 pages; $17.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. In granular detail, the narrator, Elena, chronicles her friendship with the magnetic Lila, from their meeting in first grade through their late teen years. The girls, born near the end of World War II, grow up in a dangerous,… [Read More]

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House, 2015. 152 pages; $24.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Within the first few pages of his book Coates uses a term borrowed from James Baldwin to define the enemy:  those who “believe that they are white.” In his eyes, “the power of domination… [Read More]

At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón. Penguin/Riverhead Books, 2013. 372 pages; $27.95 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Alarcón’s novel digs deeply into gritty issues like post-colonialism and the pervasive shadow cast by a brutal civil war, deftly juggling a tangle of themes and plot threads that would derail a less intrepid writer.  And… [Read More]

A Preview of The Books On My Fall 2017 Reading List (Updated). See Why I Chose Them and Reviews Will Follow!

I’m still working through the reading list I put together last year but I can’t resist starting a new pile of must-reads to be tackled in the fall of 2017. Check out the first three titles on my list, see what you think, and watch for my reviews which will be posted on my website… [Read More]

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 408 pages; $27.00 (hardcover); reading level:  adult. As Miss Constance Kopp tells it:  “Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five.”  Constance and her two younger sisters Norma and Fluerette are riding into town from the New Jersey farm where… [Read More]

The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 293 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. O’Hagan writes in the third person, shifting perspective among multiple characters (sometimes within a single paragraph) and frustrating, until the very end, readerly attempts to uncover the “real story.” At the center of the tale is photographer Anne… [Read More]

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems; illustrated by the author. Hyperion Books, 2916. 32 pages; $17.99 (hardcover); reading level: ages 4-8. If you’re on the lookout for every word that rhymes with “Nanette” and “baguette,” this is the book for you. Tucked away in the playful pile-up of rhymes (and it is quite the pile-up!) is… [Read More]