Book Review: Signs and Wonders


I agree with the reviewers who described this collection of sixteen short stories as a gift. And I would also describe the stories as gifts of unexpected love, love that does not appear in its usual wrappers.

While Alix Ohlin’s conflicted characters are struggling to make sense of their relationships, they are surprised to discover love in situations they thought they would never choose or even welcome into their lives.

In the title story, the protagonist suddenly realizes she hates her husband of 26 years. Ready to divorce him, an unfortunate accident turns her well-orchestrated life upside down, forcing her to face the prospect of tending him indefinitely.

While sitting in a hospital waiting room with her daughter and the second wife, a divorced woman discovers she still has feelings for her ex-husband.

Reena agrees to accompany her aunt on “The Cruise,” a post-divorce ritual that unleashes a torrent of feelings.

After connecting with the one who got away in “Who Do You Love?” Janet re-examines all her relationships and reaches an unexpected conclusion.

Alix Ohlin is gifted storyteller with an amazing eye for detail. Some of my favorite descriptions…

“She’d gotten married in a flurry of sex and promises, wearing a white dress so hideously confectionary that she felt like a parody of herself, a joke told in crinoline and lace, and even that made her happy, because it was silly and she knew they’d laugh about it later.”

“Our boss, Eric, was an elderly bohemian who wore pilled woolen cardigans and too-short pants, and spent afternoons in his office reading manuscripts while twirling his beard between his thumb and index finger, making a little curl that stood out from his chin. By five o’clock his beard would be a tufted mess of curls, all fluffed out like the feathers of some preening bird. Because of this, Sarah and I called him the titmouse.”


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