The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker, SB

The Age of Miracles
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The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker, SB

WHAT IF our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours until day becomes night and night becomes day? ‘It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophies are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown…’ What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day becomes night and night becomes day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on an eleven-year-old girl, grappling with emotional changes in her own life..? One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself.

Review

karen-walkerI’m not usually a fan of the dystopian fiction genre and I have to admit to being sceptical about the hype surrounding the release of this novel. A publishing bidding war led to a £500,000 deal in the UK and $1 million deal in the USA, pretty unusual for a first-time author (Karen Thompson Walker, pictured left).

But the simple concept behind the novel is just so intriguing – what happens when the rotation of the earth begins to noticeably slow down. The days and nights start to lengthen and the disastrous consequences for the natural world and society as a whole slowly reveal themselves.

At the centre of this novel is 11-year-old Julia. She lives with her mother and father in the suburbs of an unnamed town in California and on an ordinary Saturday morning the family wake to the terrible news. The story is told from Julia’s point of view and it is this ‘cusp of adolescence’ lens that makes the narrative so believable and appealing. Even though the world around her is slowly deteriorating, Julia still has to go to school and deal with the usual dramas this entails.

This is definitely a plot-driven book so don’t expect too much from the prose, but I read it in one sitting and was left reflecting on the way human beings deal with the everyday when faced with irreversible environmental change.

Kara Nicholson is from Readings Carlton.

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