The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Random House
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—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.
In this coming-of-age (?) story by debut novelist Karen Thompson Walker, we meet our main character, 11-year-old Julia. The world in which Julia lives is about to change drastically. The earth begins to slow, creating longer days. Paranoia is heightened. People begin to think that the end of the world is near. But at the heart of this story is the changing family dynamics of Julia’s family. Her parents marriage is falling apart and Julia discovers a secret that her father is keeping. Julia is also dealing with everyday childhood woes – teasing at school, trying to get the attention of the boy she likes, and the dissolution of a friendship.
The author creates a sense of foreshadowing throughout the book (“If we had known this then…”) and there is a subtle tension that kept me riveted to the audio narration. I was expecting a grand conclusion as to the cause of the slowing since there is so much build-up, but I was very disappointed with the ending. The reason I have coming-of-age as a question mark above is that I think that is the intent of this story, but I never truly felt like Julia’s character grew through the course of the book.
The audio narration is fantastic. I really loved the narrator. She spoke slowly enough that I could follow along and used great inflections and voices for the different characters.
So, overall this is an interesting premise, but it did not quite live up to my expectations.