Something about this debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker looks like a Young Adult novel, but it’s not. However I can see this appealing to teens or adults of any age who enjoy speculative fiction like Gone by Michael Grant, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, or One Second After by William R. Forstchen.
The Age of Miracles is a disaster story told through the eyes of a middle school-aged girl, Julia.
It starts out as a normal day. Julia’s best friend, Hanna, had slept over the night before. As they were getting ready to eat breakfast, the news broke that the earth’s rotation was slowing.
Big deal, right? Who wouldn’t welcome a few extra minutes in every day? Only the slowing didn’t stop with a few extra minutes. Fairly quickly the slowing began to add hours to the day and night cycle. And no one could figure out how to stop it.
The added hours of daylight and nighttime affect when school starts and ends. People stop wearing watches and try to base their day on when the sun rises and sets. When the governments step in two weeks after the slowing and suggest that everyone keep to a 24-hour clock, Julia sees how the concept of “day” becomes unhooked from “light.” When a few neighbors decide to forego “clock time” and stay on “real time,” Julia witnesses how they are singled out for senseless harassment.
The story focuses on details of everyday life, specifically, how Julia observes people around her managing to carry on in the face of the growing changes—as birds die; crops fail; homes flood; radiation increases. And meanwhile, Julia feels abandoned by her best friend, falls in love with a boy, and watches her parents’ marriage falter.
It is both redeeming and disturbing how normal things are for her as the earth slowly, slowly, slowly rotates around the sun.
This isn’t a book that will leave you with a smile on your face—but I guarantee you’ll be thinking about it long after you finish the last page.
The Age of Miracles is another book I read as well as listened to on CD because I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. The audiobook is seven discs long (9 hours) and was well read by Emily Janice Card.
Check the WRL catalog for The Age of Miracles.
Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of The Age of Miracles.