Friday, March 29, 2013

The Age of Miracles

“We didn’t notice right away.  We couldn’t feel it.”
“We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin.”
“We were distracted back then by weather and war.  We had no interest in the turning of the earth.”
 So begins Karen Thompson Walker’s dystopian novel.

Here is how it ends (and this is not a spoiler.)
“We dipped our fingers in the wet cement, and we wrote the truest, simplest things we knew -  our names, the date, and these words: We were here.”

The story is told from the point of view of a young woman, the central character, Julia.  It is a coming of age novel, but coming of age under very unusual circumstances.  Julia experiences family life, friendship, school, falling in love – all as the rotation of the earth slows on its axis.  As the book jacket tells us, she adjusts to a new normal.

The Age of Miracles is Karen Thompson Walker’s first novel.  It is well conceived and well told in numerous ways – from the interior point of view of 12 year old Julia, from the description of life in Southern California, and from the perspective of a changing world.  It echoes works in many genres.  Specific reference is made to the Ray Bradbury story “All Summer in a Day”.  I was reminded of the recent novel by Hilary Jordan,  When She Woke.  It deals with many topical themes – politics, the environment, science, the fate of humanity.  The focus is on the beauties of life and relationships and how they remain, while the world changes entirely.

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