Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Signs and Wonders” as Want to Read:
Signs and Wonders
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Signs and Wonders

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  589 ratings  ·  92 reviews
In this brilliant new collection, Scotiabank Giller Prize and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize nominee Alix Ohlin skillfully displays the full range of human emotions through the subtly powerful dramas of everyday life.

In "You Are What You Like" a young couple finds their life derailed by the arrival of a hard-partying old friend. In "Robbing the Cradle" Lisette does ev
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by House of Anansi Press (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Signs and Wonders, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Signs and Wonders

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  589 ratings  ·  92 reviews

Sort order
Stephanie Flood
Signs and Wonders by Alice Ohlin portrays succinct, crisp fiction writing that peers into conflicting, dysfunctional relationships occassionally seen in contemporary literature, puppeteering basic, flawed archetypes in current settings, that a wide audience can relate to. The stories navigate through relationships like broken marriages, love affairs with under-age children and a lack-luster partnership gone sour. These really set the stage for mediocrity with a twist. The twists tend to be forme ...more
Joseph Pfeffer
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alix Ohlin has the uncanny ability to make you feel you know her characters as though you've read a whole novel about them, though in fact you've read just two or three paragraphs. By the time you get to the end of a story, you've got the entire arc of the character's life. You know her (most of her main characters are female, thought there are striking exceptions) in a way that you know everything that will happen to her. How far she'll go in fulfilling her wishes, desires, dreams. What she'll ...more
Joanne Guidoccio
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I picked up this book before I left Canada. I had $20 in Indigo rewards and thirty minutes to spend it. I've been meaning to read Alix Ohlin since I listened to her on-line interview with Sarah Selecky (whom I love!), and Signs and Wonders was a great choice. I loved the author's conversational tone and the unexpected touch of humor in her stories. A brilliant collection that I'm glad to own - I will definitely read this book again.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Piercing short stories about connections. It's a wonderfully written collection of stories with much insight into the human condition. In just a few pages, the author draws you completely into the characters. It captured me with its beauty and poignancy....very enjoyable read with a bittersweet tint to it, recommend it!
A collection of generally horrible people in terrible relationships behaving badly toward one another, leading to a bleak, dreary read. If you will excuse me, I now need to go and take the fork out of my eye. UGH!
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
3.5. Almost DNFd but the last couple stories were really strong.
Superstition Review
Alix Ohlin understands human emotions, even those of young men, war veterans, miserable middle-aged married women, and stepmothers trying to belong. But Ohlin proves through her piercingly honest writing that she knows the same emotions are present within all of us. She shines a spotlight on the vulnerability and fragility, the resilience and hope beneath our outer shells.

Ohlin connects these people so different from each other by the most crushing emotion – loss. And yet, there is always an ele
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Captivating. I ordered this book not realizing it was a collection of short stories which I usually do not enjoy as much as a novel, but this collection definitely changed my mind. The characters were fully developed and as lovable or detestable in short story form as they could ever be in a novel. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always poignant, the stories capture people in relationships showing our human need for intimacy and companionship even when lacking the skills to make it work. I w ...more
Dec 10, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'd never have heard of this writer, who apparently teaches not-so-far from where I live, had it not been for an essay, written by my husband, published today:

(Recommended read if you are interested in writing, reading, critics, literature, elitism, Goodreads, etc.)
Angie Gazdziak
When I started reading this, the first short story was (in my opinion) stunningly beautiful. I didn't necessarily read them in order, but the first three I read were wonderful and I couldn't put them down. I finished the remainder on a flight out to LA a few months ago, and ultimately, they didn't hold my interest as much as I would have liked. They seemed very formulaic, and I found myself skimming some of them instead of reading closely as I wanted to.
I feel anxiety that verges on physical pain when I leave a book unfinished and yet I can't possibly devote myself to Signs and Wonders. It was just blah...middle aged divorcees aplenty, the stresses of daily existence, and generally disappointing plot turns pepper this collection with unlikable characters and generally boring stories.
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit, read-2012
There is something about these stories that kept me reading until I finished the entire collection. I know it is best to read short stories in small doses and let them simmer and I usually do this. There were different: I just kept saying one more until there were no more left. There are sixteen stories altogether. (To be Added to)
A'ndrea (Auni)
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book I have to say. It left me thinking more about each short story. There are 16 total, and none of them end the way you think it should. Sometimes the author leaves you hanging to decide your ending. My outcomes are usually of the happy nature. Nice change of reading. I would recommend it for sure.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Karen, I finished two weeks ago--very nice. Do you know Lori Moore? I recently got part of the way through the Ann Beattie New Yorker collection, but I needed a break for something more hopeful, but they are also worth the effort.

AND short short readers should know about the New Yorker fiction podcasts--pretty spectacular and free!
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I forgot to review this one - I must have been in a hurry to return it. It's unfortunate as I know I enjoyed a lot of these and had wanted to bookmark a few quotes.

My favorites (I think!) were the title story "Signs and Wonders," "A Month of Sundays," "The Cruise," "The Assistants, and"Bruno."
Jane Ciabattari
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful novelist, each story packs a punch...mysteries, surprises, tragic observant, empathetic writer.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
best new short story collection I've read in a long time.
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of very well-crafted, exquisitely beautiful and sad stories, exemplifying the love between people, even if misdirected or somehow flawed. Worth reading.
Jul 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Introspective of the dysfunctional but all-around entertaining stories that surprised me more often than not.
Shannon Stevens
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love short stories and she is on par with Richard Bausch, but one too many stories with car accidents.
Jen Michel
Great writing, but short stories really aren't my thing.
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. I often find my interest in a collection flagging if I read it in a straight shot, but these stories held my attention from beginning to end.
Kait McNamee
There's a Vietnamese word that my partner taught me: làt. It loosely translates to "bland" but lacks the negative connotation that bland carries in English. You say it when a dish needs something additional, like a dash of sriracha or fish sauce or pepper. This book is just that. Like many MFA-alum collections, this is an attempt to break down familial connections and explore the ennui of modern relationships. But it lacks something. That something could be experience or truth or maybe just fish ...more
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018_read
3.5 rounded up to 4 rather than down to 3. At the moment, my benchmark for short stories is the terrific collection by Lauren Groff called "Florida". I enjoyed Signs and Wonders and I wanted to finish. So, while not stellar, this was a good read and I'd recommend it if you like short stories.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like all of the stories in this collection, but I thought "The Stepmother's Story" was brilliant.
Roslyn Muir
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love her stories!
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
This is the second short stories book I've read in a row and it's been a delicious treat. These snack sized bits to burrow into without the commitment of an entire novel. Of course I'm reading a novel right along side the stories so as to round out nutritionally.

Aliz Ohlin has managed to captivate me. It's as if I'm reading a whole story but in 10-15 pages or so. She has drawn characters, male and female and set the tone and various histories and situations that are so captivating and real yet a
Tina Siegel
I'd love a half-star option, here, because then I could have given this the 3.5 I feel it deserves.

First, let me say that I really admire and enjoy Ohlin's willingness to experiment with voice and point of view - it makes every story in this collection feel unique and fresh. Her interest in human relationships, the dark and light of them, act as a through-line that gives cohesion and coherence to the whole.

I also liked her crisp use of language, and the long, poetic descriptions with which she
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Aerogrammes: and Other Stories
  • And Also Sharks
  • Light Lifting
  • All the Anxious Girls on Earth
  • Bang Crunch
  • The Dark and Other Love Stories
  • Hellgoing
  • The Beautiful Anthology
  • The World
  • Through the Safety Net
  • The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories
  • Girl Trouble
  • Wait Till You See Me Dance
  • Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events: Stories
  • The Great Frustration
  • The Beautiful Indifference
  • Further Joy
  • Circus
Alix Ohlin is the author of The Missing Person, a novel; Babylon and Other Stories; and Signs and Wonders, a story collection. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best New American Voices, and on public radio’s Selected Shorts. She lives in Vancouver, BC.