Rummanah Aasi
    I seem to be very luck with most of my adult reading picks this year. The latest book that struck a strong chord with me is Karen Thompson Walker's debut novel, The Age of Miracles, that makes us wonder what we would do if we are confronted with a natural disaster and whether life we knew it would irrevocably change.

Description: On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 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.

Review: The Age of Miracles is a gripping yet quiet debut novel. Our narrator is the precocious eleven year-old Julia who wakes one day to the news that the earth's rotation has started slowing. The unheard event sends ripples of bewilderment, fear, paranoia, and chaos everywhere. The immediate effects of the slowing is startling as people rush to the nearest grocery stories and survival disasters kits, which is not common with what people really did with the potential threat of Y2K twelve years ago.
  "The slowing" is growing slower still, and soon both day and night are more than twice as long as they once were. The simple concept of what we think time is suddenly altered causing fractions within the nation as the federal governments decide to stick to the 24-hour schedule (ignoring circadian rhythms) while a subversive movement called "real-timers" erupts and disregards the clock and appear to be weathering the slowing better than clock-timers-at first. As the days continue to lengthen, gravity increases, the earth’s magnetic field begins to collapse and the world faces potential famine as plants die during the ever-lengthening nights. The slowing is never explained nor addressed beyond its after effects, much to the frustration of many readers, but I had no issues with it as I saw the event as a series of metaphors ranging from the classic coming of age to the loss of the innocence all thanks to the wonderful narrator.
  I loved Julia right from the start. Her voice is memorable, authentic, direct, and conversational. I connected with her on so many levels. On the brink of adolescence, she's as concerned with buying her first bra as with the world falling around her. She keenly observes her parent's failing marriage and also has a bittersweet first romance of her own. She tries to survive the mercurial waters of junior high where her peers are tweens acting as if they are in their mid-20s and attached to their cliques. Though she attempts to fit in, she still wants a companion who can understand her and be comfortable in her own skin. She wants to take risks but at the same time is afraid to leave her familiar world.
 While the slowing causes irreversible damages, the narrative remains focused on the horrifying day-to-day and the personal decisions that persist even though no one knows what to do. The book suggests that perhaps we are worrying about the wrong set of problems that will bring our end. An exquisitely written, poignant read, The Age of Miracles is easily a book that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. I would not be surprised to see it on this year's Alex Awards.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pffeffer, Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by  Jonathan Safran Foer
6 Responses
  1. Interesting premise and you say it is pulled off with great writing? Hm... I think I'll check this one out. I haven't heard of it, but it does sound interesting and I'm curious as to how the science is pulled off...

  2. I have heard so many good things about this book. Unfortunately, it is a theme - dystopia/apocalyptic that really freaks me out so I probably won't read it. But it's hard to resist good writing.

  3. Candace Says:

    I think this might freak me out cause its something that COULD happen (or something like it) and that stuff just sits in my brain driving me nuts! But it sounds amazing. I don't know, maybe once we make it past this year I can read more books like this. ;)

  4. Jenny Says:

    While the fact that Julia's only 11 makes me think this book might not be for me given I typically like my characters a bit older, the premise and Julia herself sound too amazing to simply discount due to age. Must step outside my comfort zone and give this one a try Rummanah!

  5. Great review! I can't imagine the effects of the reversal of the earth's magnetic field but I know what the lack of gravity would do. As far as the longer nights and days, I'd be screwed. I do hope this doesn't ever happen to anyone living on earth, but, kill me now if happened during my life time!
    I think I'd like Julia trying to be normal in a messed up world.


  6. I was always curious about this book, but to be honest, I knew very little about it until now. This is a very intriguing premise and I have a feeling it'll make me break my 'no middle grade' rule. It sounds too good to miss.
    Wonderful review!

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails