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Reviewed by Ann Neville for Readers' Favorite
A Gentle Wizard was written by Nils Andersson, an expert on Einstein's theory of relativity and related astrophysics, to celebrate the 100th birthday of Einstein's theory of gravity. The narrative is written from the perspective of a young boy whose chance encounter with Einstein led to a life-long friendship. While a blend of fact and fiction, all the science is real, as are the characters of Einstein, his assistant Helen Dukas, and colleagues Robert Oppenheimer and John Wheeler. Nils Andersson gives readers an insight into Einstein's life from when he was a young man in Bern through to his death. But it doesn't stop there. Andersson continues the story after Einstein's death, detailing the cataloging of Einstein's notes and correspondence by Helen Dukas, and the subsequent continued ratification of his theories. While Jack and his family are fictional characters, the events he describes did happen, though not necessarily in the order as depicted.
Because A Gentle Wizard is told from the perspective of the young boy, Jack, readers are given the opportunity to explore these mysteries in an easier to understand format - something difficult to do given the complexity of the theories. Readers discover the thinking behind black holes, the big bang theory, and changes in space and time caused by space warping. I found the sections around the speeding up and slowing down of time particularly fascinating. Another strength of the book is that, while it answers many questions, it also sets the reader's mind thinking about the wonders of our world. It also gives an appreciation of the time, effort and commitment that Einstein, and others like him, invested in exploring these mysteries. If a reader is looking for a thought-provoking book that takes him/her to the edge of reality, where clocks grind to a halt and stars collapse into themselves to form holes that aren't quite holes, I recommend A Gentle Wizard by Nils Andersson.