Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Age of Miracles

This story begins with the announcement that the Earth is turning more slowly.  Instead of 24 hours, a day is now 25 and a half hours long, and gaining.  So the conflict and setting are definitely science fiction, but the story is more of a coming of age.  Julia tells the story and the majority takes place when she is in 6th grade.

I loved this book.  It's hard sometimes for me to determine if the book is really that great or if it is just the exact sort of thing I like to read.  I liked Julia.  I could relate to her.  I loved the poignant moments that just seem so true and universal and sad. 

Julia tells the story with maturity, she uses a wide vocabulary, she uses similes, she makes comparisons, but for me it works.  I did keep imagining she was a couple years older, but her age is important to preserve some of her innocence.  She's writing from the future, and sometimes makes comments alluding to the big picture of her life.  For example, "Maybe everything that happened to me and to 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."

Karen Thompson Walker uses this scientific phenomenon to illustrate how people interact with each other.  Especially how we respond to change, differing views and having faith.  I enjoyed thinking about how these things would play out, but didn't feel like she was forcing sociological theory on her reader. "I guess every bygone era takes on a shade of myth." and  "This is just to say that as strange as the new days seemed to us at first, the old days would come to feel very quickly the stranger."

I loved the characters, I loved the slow, thoughtful pace of the writing, and I loved Julia's story. Here a couple more reasons why.

"My most recent school picture, in which my eyes were half closed, on the verge of a blink, rendering moot all the time I had spent selecting the cream-colored mohair sweater I wore on picture day."  So relatable! When I was in 8th grade I had PE before pictures, and we had to run the mile. I had probably spend 30 minutes curling my hair that morning, for nothing.  School pictures are so horrible.

"This was the first of the white nights.  We would later learn to shield ourselves, to carve out small patches of darkness amid the light, but that first clock night was ceiling stars were invisible that night anyway, just like the real ones were, every one of them washed out by our nearest, dearest star."  I love the poetic almost sing-song narration.

I really liked this story. It has a few swear words in it, but I would still recommend it to young adult girls.  I was hoping to recommend it to my sons, but because there are scenes where Julia buys her first bra (so good), and many moments where she is trying to understand boys, I think it's more suited for a female audience.

I read this after reading this review (warning: it contains spoilers).