Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of MiraclesThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book 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.

My thoughts: Evocative language about the subtle slow of the earth's rotation as threats and nights lengthen Julia, the 11 year old narrator, continues through 6th grade. The reader experiences the tearing of societal fabric as Julia finds herself socially marginalized, then acceptable for the company she keeps, rejected by her best friend and has tastes first love.

Meanwhile, Julia's family is falling apart and people disappear to Circadian colonies or simply disappear. The earth's magnetic field changes and plants and animals die. It is kind of a doomsday cautionary tale written with enough scientific background to be believable but also terribly depressing. Although more subtle and readable, it felt too Al Gore for my tastes.

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