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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
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May 31, 2012

it was amazing

The Age of Miracles is a spellbinding, postapocalyptic coming of age. The story of the earth's slowing is arresting, giving the reader ample opportunities for "what ifs" and "how would I's" - a cataclysmic event that, however unlikely, seems more than possible after the impossibilities we've already experienced.

Also absorbing is the story of Julia's life as everything around her begins to change. She's at that age where everything would be changing anyway, and throughout the book it is sometimes - often - those changes in nuance, relationship, and understanding that shake Julia's place in the world more than the shifting of gravity or the lengthening of days. (If I had to name one complaint, I'd have Julia be a year or two older than she is portrayed, just to keep the emotions and experiences closer to my own.) A young girl on the cusp of growing up is so often an important lens for seeing the world (think of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!) and Karen Thompson Walker uses the narrator here to devastatingly beautiful effect.

While not strictly science fiction, there's a lot here for lovers of postapocalyptic fiction of all kinds, with evocative language and excellent characters as well. A great read for book clubs, or for anyone who loves a thoughtful exploration of the question "What would happen if...?".

(Also excellent: the backstory of how this book came into being. The author was an editor at a big publishing house and wrote the book over four years in the mornings before work and on her subway commute. Her modest expectations for its sale were blown out of the water, and she's been (fairly!) given amazing blurbs by huge name authors like Justin Cronin, Karen Russell, Amy Bloom, and Dani Shapiro. It's a rag-to-riches publishing story, one that's fairly rare and is super heartening in this time of self published e-book fan fiction.)
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