The Age of Miracles


The Age of Miracles is an apocalyptic tale of the near future about the slowing of the earth’s rotation. The title, however, refers to our protagonist and narrator Julia who is coming-of-age in this terrible time. “This was middle school, the age of miracles, the time when kids shot up three inches over the summer, when breasts bloomed from nothing, when voices dipped and dove.” As minute—and soon hours—are added to each day, Julia finds herself concerned more about getting her first bra and flirting with boys.

Author Karen Thompson Walker explores the usual trials and tribulations that teenagers experience when growing up but sets them against the haunting backdrop of a dying world. Julia tracks the changes she sees in those important to her, never sure how much of it is because of the slowing. Her parents’ marriage is deteriorating; her crush—Seth—never seems to notice her; and her Mormon best friend quickly distances herself from Julia. As society crumbles around her, Julia never quite succumbs to the hysteria that she sees around her.

Walker maps out the devastating effects of the slowing in a frighteningly real way. As hours of daylight and nighttime continue to increase, crops begin withering, animals start dying off, power supplies are used up. Society itself splits apart as the government forces everyone to adhere to clock time (the 24-hour day is reinstated, regardless of how light or dark it is outside) causing fractions of people to form their own real-timer societies (where they observe days and night based on the sun).

This is a vividly created doomsday, and Julia has an engaging tone as she records her point of view of the world. It’s easy to get lost in this powerful novel, quickly eating up Walker’s succinct, elegant prose. Miracles is well-crafted, well-plotted and will no doubt earn its place as one of the Top 10 Books of 2012.


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