The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. New York: Random House, 2012.
The Age of Miracles is the story of nearly 12-year-old Julia and her family and how they survive a global catastrophe. One morning the world wakes up to the announcement that the earth’s rotation has begun to slow dramatically. Already the day has lengthened nearly an hour. As the days continue to lengthen, gravity increases, the earth’s magnetic field begins to collapse and the world faces potential famine as plants die during the ever-lengthening nights. Yet some things about being 11 don’t change. As families struggle to maintain normalcy, Julia faces the challenge of Junior High School and difficulties with friends and even experiences her first love.
This story is narrated by an older Julia, remembering back to the momentous events that changed her life forever. The premise that the end of the world would come from a sudden and unexpected slowing of the earth’s spin is interesting and original. No matter how many problems people feared, there was no way to predict or prepare for the disaster they actually faced.
While I appreciate that the premise is deliberately unusual, I did have trouble believing it. The slowing is never explained. But even more confusing for me was the failure to notice the change. Modern society measures everything. If nothing else, satellites in geosynchronous orbits would be affected by any tiny variation in the earth’s rotation. Still, once I let go of my skepticism, I did enjoy this book. It is a story of ordinary people struggling to survive in extraordinary circumstances. It is a story of love and loss and the search for motivation to continue living when all hope seems gone.
The Age of Miracles is being marketed as an adult book. However, it has definite YA appeal as a post-apocalyptic coming of age story.
(Random House provided multiple advance copies of this book for our library staff. I was lucky enough to get access to one in order to write this review. The Age of Miracles will be released on June 26, 2012.)