Karen's Reviews > The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
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's review
Jul 30, 12

A book not just about the beginning of the end of the world, but the beginning of the end of childhood too. This novel ranks somewhere in the top five of my list of "best books for most accurate and heart-rending representations of early adolescence ever." Adolescence is hard enough as it is, but imagine the hormones, the insecurity, the self-consciousness, the confusion, and the first crush while also living through an environmental disaster that threatens to destroy the world. This is what happens to Julia when the Earth begins "the slowing." Unexplained, unknown--and this might be the worst part of the disaster, that no reasonable explanation can be found--the span of a day suddenly begins to lengthen, affecting gravity, hours of daylight, and more subtle things, such as the human instinct to control the id. Julia watches as her world changes drastically in all areas, including her parents' marriage, which has always seemed rock solid. As her mother succombs more and more to insomnia, unable to sleep during the long "nights" of sunshine, and then falls prey to a new disease known as the syndrome, her father seems to find new and unexpected freedom. The marriage grows more and more distant, her father spending longer hours at the hospital where her works, just when Julia's mother (and perhaps Julia too) need him most. Going into sixth grade, Julia wants to shake off her mother's hovering and always worried presence, finding the familiar daughter/mother resentment that seems to strike right around age eleven or twelve--when of course her mother wants to hover most, especiallynow that the world seems to be ending. Julia's best friend, a Mormon girl, disappears with her family to the desert just after the slowing begins, and suddenly Julia is alone at school, her best friend lost to her at a crucil moment. And, in the midst of everything else, Julia adores Seth Moreno from afar, unsure how to handle her emotions, how to approach him, or even if she can risk the rejection she is sure she will receive from him. Seth is the moody boy she has always liked secretly and fiercely. His mother is dying of cancer, and Seth seemes to know things about life and death that make him older than his years. The connection that grows between those two characters is one of the most beautiful parts of this book--and the book is full of beautiful writing and spot-on perfect depictions of the complications of relationships, especially family relationships.

So beautifully written, a first novel that wows you and makes you a little bit jealous that you didn't write it yourself. I don't know how the author managed to do what she did so well, but I loved the book. I wish there was more to read. Will have to wait and see what the author writes next and hope it doesn't take too long.

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