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]

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]

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 Water Princess by Susan Verde Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Water Princess by Susan Verde; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016.  42 pages; $17.99 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 4-8. Gie Gie, a princess in her parents’ eyes, surveys her kingdom: the African sky, the wild dogs, the tall grass, and the dusty earth. Not part of her kingdom is water,… [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]