Friday, July 20, 2012

The Age of Miracles truly a miraclulous piece of writing from a first time novelist named Karen Thompson Walker. Once again a newbie has knocked it out of the ball park. I'm sorry that I'm late to this party as her novel, The Age of Miracles, has been getting rave reviews from every quarter. I had it in my hand months ago but kept putting it aside for library books which were accruing fines.

I think one of the things that stands out in this novel is the authenticity of the voice of the young narrator Julia. As a reader I really enjoyed spending time in her company. She's no drama queen but a thoughtful, sensitive, budding teenager facing all of the angst filled, everyday goings on that constitute the lives of everyday kids. Who's going to talk to me at the bus stop? Why are my parents acting funny toward each other? When will I be able to get my first bra? (even if I don't have breasts)

If you're one of the few book lovers out there who hasn't heard of this novel, the basic premise is that the earth's rotation is slowing, at first imperceptibly, but then more and more obviously, as the days of sunlight grow longer, brighter, hotter, and the nights get longer, darker, and colder. The effects of "the slowing" seem minor at first but as the multiple ramifications become clearer, both the characters and the reader come to understand that the earth is in its death throes.

This realization brings an air of bittersweet to the story of Julia and her friends who adjust as best they can. Graced with the optimism of the young, they continue to attend school, though some disappear to outlier colonies, rebels who think that they can live more productive lives if they stick to their circadian rhythms, most people follow the government's injunction to stick to the 24 hour clock.

The Age of Miracles has been touted as a great YA crossover novel and I think it would make for a terrific intergenerational book discussion. As often happens in YA lit, Julia's folks seem somewhat inept at first. Her dad keeps his head in the sand and his body at work, her mom seemingly over reacts, stockpiling canned goods, staying glued to the TV, and becoming more and more insulated from reality.

All I could think of while reading this book was the old T.S. Eliot poem that ends with these lines:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

1 comment:

TooManyBooks said...

I'm glad you liked it so much. I thought it was fab!