Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Age of Miracles Review

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

(from the publisher)
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, twelve-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. Amidst this altered environment, Julia also faces a new kind of transformation – growing up. Coping with the normal disasters of everyday life (the loss of friends, struggles in her parents’ marriage, and the anguish of first love) she grapples to find her way on a changing world.

This is a book about a natural disaster. But it is a rather slow disaster. The slowing Earth wreaks havoc with nature and causes all sorts of problems but there is no yelling and running. There is nothing to escape from. It is the kind of thing you can't even see. So people have time to think and ponder instead of just react. You see how they respond when their world slowly starts to fall apart around them, when there is no enemy to fight, when there is not even an explanation for what is happening. As the natural world starts to change society changes with it. As people try to make sense of it and the government tries to hold things together you can see people turn on some and come together with others, and how the stress illuminates and exacerbates problems that were already there along with creating new ones. And all of these things are seen through the eyes of a girl who is just trying to grow up. So the book ends up being about the disaster, about the lives and relationships of the people and about how society, government and individuals deal with a crisis, with a little coming-of-age thrown in. Since the story is told from the perspective of the girl that the narrator was it has a specific focus. To her the immediate consequences with friends and family are more important than the bigger picture so that is more of what we see. It is very easy to read so the story, although it has a leisurely pace, goes quickly. The end does leave you wondering. But not in a bad, the author didn't finish the book way. I can't even tell you exactly what I liked about this book. I just found it very enjoyable to read.