Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Age of Miracles

I have been excited to tell people about this book even before I finished the last page.  Karen Thompson Walker's first novel is an achingly beautiful account of naivete lost at a young age, in an unexpected way.
On a seemingly random day, Julia and her family listen to the TV as it is reported that the earth's rotation is slowing.  As one review puts it, "The world is ending, not with a bang, but with a whimper."  The days stretch first to 26 hours, then into weeks.  Governments ask people to remain on 24-hour 'clock time,' while a small contingency of citizens choose to live on 'real time,' resulting in some who go 4 days without sleep until the sun goes down.  Gravity is altered, so birds become grounded; crops can't grow under a sun that can be blisteringly hot for tens of hours; tides get higher and higher. 
With all of these extraordinary changes occurring on the planet, Julia is going through her own process of growing up.  Her best friend moves away and comes back a different person, she develops her first crush, her parents' relationship becomes strained, and her grandfather goes missing.  Life, as different as it may be, slowly creeps on.
Julia is just a wonderful narrator: pensive without being overly intellectual, personal while remaining objectivity, and naive without being twee.  Walker is a genius for timing the earth's slowing with Julia's growing up; it makes sense for her to be feeling her way around the world at the same time that everything is going topsy-turvy.  Life feels fragile for everyone at the beginning of adolescence, but even more so in such strange circumstances. 
The Age of Miracles was totally worth the 2-month waitlist at my library.  It feels especially appropriate as the seasons change and days grow shorter.

1 comment:

  1. Argh!! I've been on hold for library forever for this book!!