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]

Ben-Gurion; Father of Modern Israel by Anita Shapira Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Ben-Gurion; Father of Modern Israel by Anita Shapira; translated from the Hebrew by Anthony Berris. Yale University Press, 2014. 276 pages; $25.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. In the first four chapters of this biography, David Ben-Gurion is born David Green in Plonsk, Poland, travels to Warsaw to attend high school (only to be rejected for… [Read More]

The Two Tims by David Elliott Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Two Tims by David Elliott; illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo.  Candlewick, 2016.  32 pages; $15.99 (hardcover); reading level:  4-8. Tim and Tim (one with blond hair, one with brown) are best friends.  Until Tom comes along.  Blond Tim plays knights with Tom while brown-haired Tim sulks.  Brown-haired Tim crazy-dances with Tom while blond Tim sulks…. [Read More]

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Woodridge

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 340 pages; $14.95 (paperback); reading level: adult. Two narratives from two time periods unfold concurrently in this impressive first novel: The first is the story of Francis and Viola Turner, who marry in 1944 and migrate north to Detroit; the second story reaches forward to… [Read More]

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough; Simon & Schuster, 2015. 320 pages; $30.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This is McCullough’s tenth work of nonfiction and he has acquired a well-deserved reputation for turning impeccably researched facts into enjoyable narratives. This latest book is not a birth-to-death biography of the Wright brothers (it ends in 1910,… [Read More]

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin; HarperCollins, 2012. 426 pages; $15.99 (paperback); reading level: adult. Pairs of relationships drive the plot of this beautifully-written, tightly structured novel (Coplin’s first). In 1865, when William Talmadge is an orphaned 17-year-old living in what will later be the state of Washington, his younger sister goes into the forest to… [Read More]

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Art of Hearing Hearbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker; translated from the German by Kevin Wiliarty; Other Books/Random House, 2006. 325 pages; $15.95 (paperback); reading level: adult. Responding to a just-discovered letter, Julia Win, a hard-nosed young New York City attorney, travels to Kalaw, Burma, her missing father’s birth place, to track him down.  The story… [Read More]

Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George; Picador/Henry Holt & Company, 2013.  287 pages; $16.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. The title of Rose’s book clues us in to her first main point:  ninety percent of the food we eat and the things that fill our homes, cupboards, offices, and yards comes to us by sea…. [Read More]

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín; Scribner, 2014.  373 pages; $27.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This is the quietest of books. So quiet that, after you take your place behind Nora Webster eyes and realize she’s just lost her husband, you might wonder if anything is going to happen…or if this will be a psychological study… [Read More]

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; Scribner, 2014.  530 pages; $27.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. The story begins not with part one but with part “Zero” on the French Island of Saint-Malo, August 7, 1944. Through the course of the novel, we travel in a negative direction in time and space –… [Read More]