Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I had read several very good reviews of this title in various professional review journals and I must say the book did not disappoint. This book is set in present time or perhaps a bit in the future. Something, however, has happened to the rotation of the earth. It is steadily slowing making the 24 hour day a thing of the past, daylight and nighttime are no longer dependable, and the birds are dropping dead out of the sky.

Our narrator is an indeterminate age looking back on her 11 year old self as she lives through this change in the earth. As a reader, I felt comforted by that. That she grew older. That she must have survived. The truth of that actually remains to be seen, but it was a comforting thought nonetheless. As I said, Julia is 11 and she is a mature one at that. She is also crushingly lonely for a variety of reasons. I don't think I've been so touched by a character in quite some time. I loved Julia, I felt her pain like it was my own. She was so real I couldn't help but ache for her. She is worried about the future of the earth, but she is just as worried about her grandfather, her parent's marriage, and the boy she wishes would notice her.

The story is masterfully written. It is not a shrill end of the world tale, but the tale of a girl and her family and how they are affected by a life and earth altering event. We learn about what happens to the world and what happens to the people in it as they struggle to hold onto normalcy. What would a world look like if the rotation slowed? The days stretch, the nights stretch, it is light when it should be dark and vice versa. People begin to get sick, the magnetic field is affected, radiation begins to be released, crops begin to fail. And all through this people attempt to survive.

It is a beautiful story and I can't recommend it enough.

Book Source = ARC from 4th floor


joanna said...

So would you think Alex Award contender for this one? I just put it on hold.

Patti said...

I think it's possible. I do wonder if it doesn't have more adult than teen appeal though. Let me know what you think.

Ceska said...

Strange and scary this is, Julia so seamlessly incorporates all of it into her growing-up process that it begins to seem normal to her. She still, after all, has to cope with the pain of losing her old girl friends to their new best friends; a new relationship with her first serious boyfriend; the knowledge that her parents are more fallible than she ever knew; and imagining her place on a planet whose long term future is far from assured. Julia and her new boyfriend Seth are there for each other just when everyone else seems to have forgotten them.

That relationship leads to one of the more moving final paragraphs of a book I have encountered in a long while. The Age of Miracles is, almost by definition of its genre, not likely to impact adult readers the way it will move younger ones and should not be judged by adult reader standards. But do the young readers in your family a favor - steer them towards this one if they will let you.