The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2018

TITLE: The Age of Miracles
AUTHOR: Karen Thompson Walker

PAGES: 294
PUBLISHER: Random House

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Speculative Fiction

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old 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.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.
What would happen if one day the Earth's rotation began to slow down? As both days and nights get longer with each rotation of the earth, and as that begins to have its effects on nature, we follow 11-year-old Julia as she comes of age in that world.

It's an interesting premise for speculative fiction, but in the half or so of the book that I read, I didn't feel the author was particularly interested in it. The issue of the slowing of the rotation of the Earth really makes no sense. I didn't buy it. Yes, the science felt pretty sketchy, but that was not the problem. I'm perfectly happy to suspend my disbelief about a premise as long as the way the characters react to it feels emotionally true. I didn't get that here.

Walker Thompson doesn't seem to be interested in exploring what would actually happen in the event of such a thing, with its extremely disastrous consequences. This is simply the background. All she cares about exploring is the inner life of her protagonist. Who cares if there are riots all over the world and millions are dying? Let's ask the important questions here! How does Julia feel? What is occupying her mind?

And Julia is boring. Instead of a book about how a slow-moving catastrophe might feel, what I got was the super narrow experience of a white suburban American pre-teen. And I'm sorry, but I'm so bored of that. It had all the tropes... the obsession with the first bra (this is something I've seen in so, so many books and I have to take on faith. Is this really such a big deal for American girls? I can't even remember when I first got one. In Uruguay it's just not a thing. It's not expected to be a big deal, therefore it isn't), the school bullies, the best friend who's suddenly not such a good friend anymore, the boy she has a crush on... I feel like I have read this a thousand times before, and nothing here felt like it added anything. So I gave up.

I'm really not sure why this book was so talked about and celebrated. Meh.



Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP