The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker
The Age if Miracles was my library’s pick for April’s book discussion. This is my third attempt to make it to the discussion, and I actually did this time! The discussion was lively as people had varied opinions about the tone of the book: i.e. Julia lacked emotion and did not have a strong bond to her parents (because they did not seem to really care about what she did, etc.). I felt that Julia was emotionally distant, but I interpreted that to be her personality and perhaps how she coped with her tragic situation. Some children/people are less emotional than others, so I didn’t give it a thought until the discussion. Also, I felt that some parents are more independent and less controlling than others. So, while it was a little sad that Julia was left to herself a lot of the time, I did not question the “realness” because some families are like that. What did you think about the levels of “emotion” from Julia and her parents?
The basic plot (which, by the way, I had no clue about until I started reading) revolves around 11 year old, Julia. She has a lovely life filled with school, soccer, her parents, and her very best friend, Hanna. Then one day, something mysterious happens: the earth’s rotation slows down and no one knows why. The remainder of the book follows Julia as she deals with the reality of longer days and nights (at one point each day and night is 24 hours each and growing). People take two major roads to deal with this conundrum. One group chooses to adapt and stay awake while it is light and sleep while it is dark. The second group chooses to keep to the 24 hour clock and live like “normal,” ignoring whether it’s light or dark outside. (A few spoilers ahead.) The reality is that life is fading, first the birds die, then the whales, then the plants. People become very creative with how to sustain life under these circumstances, from artificial light to greenhouses. Julia looses her best friend, Hanna, but becomes friends with Seth, who has just lost his mother. They do everything together until one day Seth comes down with “the syndrome” and has to leave. The syndrome effects Julia’s mother as well, and is believed to be a result of the slowing rotation, causing people to become really sick. Julia has a very hard time with loosing two friends, her grandfather, and catching her father with the neighbor across the street. Through it all she maintains a even-keeled perspective and lives to grow up. That is where the book leaves off, leaving you to suppose that at some point the earth dies completely.
I found the book fascinating and a very quick read. I really enjoyed it, even though a large portion of it was sad. There were a few uplifting points, like her friendship with Seth, which kept the story lighter and left me with a feeling of “I enjoyed that book.” Overall it kept you reading to find out what happened next.
Summing it up: I would recommend this book, especially if you enjoy “end of the world” scenarios. It was a quick, fascinating read.
All the best, Abbey