What if the world as you know it suddenly began to change? Not sudden or noticeable, but a change so subtle that by the time it was realized, it was too late. The Age of Miracles: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker follows that kind of change through the eyes of a middle school, preteen named Julia. Julia was like “one of the rest, a quiet girl with an average face, one in the harmless and unharmed crowd.”
Contrary to what you may think, the central character of the story is time. The concept, the importance, the structure, the effect and dependence that time has in our lives is explored. The reader accompanies Julia, her parents, friends, neighbors, schoolmates and the community as they experience this journey into the unknown. This cataclysmic phenomenon that the world began to call “the slowing.” The author very effectively intertwines the slowing of time with the heightened awareness Julia now has of her surroundings. She, along with the everyone else was scared. Scared of the unchartered future, scared of the knowledge that with each passing day minutes are being added on. The length of a day grows and at one point there was 30 hours in the day.
Everything is affected by the slowing. Externally, the gravitational pull of the earth, the animals, especially the birds…”bodies in motion were slightly less likely to remain in motion.” In the midst of all this external change Julia is experiencing changes of her own. The slowing has also affected her sense of security and her daily routine. She watched the people around her do their best to keep one or both feet planted in the past to maintain a sense of normalcy, but nothing lasts forever. The gravitational pull of the slowing eventually morphs into their new normal. The line of demarcation between the real-time night and day become blurred and a sense of order is now defined by the government.
THOUGHTS for your SOUL:
- “It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different – unimagined, unprepared for, unknown.”
- “Who knows how fast a second-guess can travel? Who has ever measured the exact speed of regret?…no law of physics can account for desire.”
Julia grew up pretty quickly, like a character in a Twilight Zone episode she waited for the uncomfortableness of old friendships to become comfortable again. She didn’t know it then, but old allegiances had ended. She couldn’t put it into words, she “hated the way the old closeness hung over like a stink, unacknowledged but forever waiting in the air” and wished she could go back to the time before it all began. Just like the slowing “the subtler trajectories: the tracks of friendship, for example, the paths toward and away from love” became more apparent.
The Age of Miracles speaks to our reactions to those things out of our control. The consequences of innocence lost, like the comfort of a certain way of life, the security of peace of mind and the certainty of faith. All the while, grateful for the memories of a time that has slipped away.
Let’s BOND over BOOKS rates The Age of Miracles as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs)…just the right mixture of content and pages.
Permission granted from RandomHouse Publishing.