Book Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

AgeOfMiracles

 

I’m sure we’ve all wished for more hours in the day. But what if it started actually happening? There are so many things we’ve never considered when thinking that 24 hours is just not enough. In The Age of Miracles, all these things are explored.

Plot

They can’t figure out why, but the days are growing longer, and continue to grow longer. At first, society tries to adjust. They move the clock every day, once they calculate how long a day now is. But when days stretch too long, they make the decision to return to a 24-hour clock, regardless of the position of the sun. Not everyone agrees with this idea, and society splits between those on “clock” time and those on “real” time. Not only that, but strange effects are happening from the longer, hotter days. Plants and birds are dying, new diseases are cropping up, and no one can figure out what to do about any of it.

Characters

The main character is 11-year-old Julia, who is struggling to adjust to the changes in her world along with the absence of her best friend. Most of the time, I had to remind myself that Julia was only 11. She thought, acted, and spoke like she was closer to 14 or 15. She was narrating it from an older age, but that shouldn’t change the dialogue or her actions. Other than that, she was a likable character and her thoughts and observations of the world were intriguing.

Writing Quality

Beautiful literary writing. While it may seem more of a genre book with the apocalyptic/dystopian theme, it definitely leaned more toward literary. To be honest, there aren’t many literary books that I give 5 stars to, but this one really kept me thinking about it for a long time. How do people react when the world itself is against you? It’s not an enemy you can fight, but people still find ways to fight against each other.

Entertainment

It’s a unique combination of coming-of-age meets apocalyptic. As if the preteen years weren’t hard enough, let’s add in a dying world, a crumbling home life, a social life that’s non-existent, and see what happens. Well, the result is this novel that will likely stay with you for a long time and keep you thinking about the fragility of life and our world. It made me become even more amazed that we’ve managed to keep a 24-hour day/7-day week/365.25-day year for all this time.


The Goodreads Description

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life–the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

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