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 do to undercut herself, no matter how good things may look. The other thing that is so strong about these stories is Ohlin's use of detail. In every story, she gives telling accents that let you know she's writing about this particular person and no one else in the world. The interactions between characters are equally unique and vivid. Every interaction has quirks that tell the reader this could only happen between these two people at this particular time in this particular place. Ohlin creates suspense not by building up to some catastrophic event, but by showing how her characters react to such events, which take place near the beginning. The most striking of these is The Teacher, where a grieving young widower reacts to the death of his wife in ways entirely unexpected yet entirely believable. Other times the events are more subtle. In Bruno, a man discovers what it means to be a father when his son, against all the man's wishes, decides he's going to live with him instead of his mother. In other stories people react to unexpected pregnancies, infertility, the disappearance of a son in ways that define who they are and give the reader the sense of a complete life unfolding in a few pages. Signs and Wonders is a brilliant collection by one of our most gifted young writers, Alix Ohlin has proven herself as adept with long fiction (Inside) as with short. There is a sense that her career is still in its early stages, and that what she will give us in the future will be more endlessly surprising tales, told with breathtaking richness in the language of the heart.