Description: On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life.
Review: The Age of Miracles is a gripping yet quiet debut novel. Our narrator is the precocious eleven year-old Julia who wakes one day to the news that the earth’s rotation has started slowing. The unheard event sends ripples of bewilderment, fear, paranoia, and chaos everywhere. The immediate effects of the slowing is startling as people rush to the nearest grocery stories and survival disasters kits, which is not common with what people really did with the potential threat of Y2K twelve years ago.
“The slowing” is growing slower still, and soon both day and night are more than twice as long as they once were. The simple concept of what we think time is suddenly altered causing fractions within the nation as the federal governments decide to stick to the 24-hour schedule (ignoring circadian rhythms) while a subversive movement called “real-timers” erupts and disregards the clock and appear to be weathering the slowing better than clock-timers-at first. As the days continue to lengthen, gravity increases, the earth’s magnetic field begins to collapse and the world faces potential famine as plants die during the ever-lengthening nights. The slowing is never explained nor addressed beyond its after effects, much to the frustration of many readers, but I had no issues with it as I saw the event as a series of metaphors ranging from the classic coming of age to the loss of the innocence all thanks to the wonderful narrator.
I loved Julia right from the start. Her voice is memorable, authentic, direct, and conversational. I connected with her on so many levels. On the brink of adolescence, she’s as concerned with buying her first bra as with the world falling around her. She keenly observes her parent’s failing marriage and also has a bittersweet first romance of her own. She tries to survive the mercurial waters of junior high where her peers are tweens acting as if they are in their mid-20s and attached to their cliques. Though she attempts to fit in, she still wants a companion who can understand her and be comfortable in her own skin. She wants to take risks but at the same time is afraid to leave her familiar world.
While the slowing causes irreversible damages, the narrative remains focused on the horrifying day-to-day and the personal decisions that persist even though no one knows what to do. The book suggests that perhaps we are worrying about the wrong set of problems that will bring our end. An exquisitely written, poignant read, The Age of Miracles is easily a book that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.
Reviewed by: Rummanah