C mentioned a book he had heard about on NPR, that wondered what would happen if the earth’s rotation were to slow, stretching the days out longer and longer. People that tried to adapt to the new “day” were pitted against those that stuck with a 24 hour day despite the rising and setting of the sun. Food chains were altered as animals either adapted or didn’t to the changes, the tides rose and fell in extremis, and seratonin and vitamin D levels fluctuated wildly, along with the moods of those that were the most susceptible.
So when I picked up The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel, I was expecting some cross of a scifi/apocolypse/survival story.
What I got instead was the coming of age tale of pre-teen Julia, who’s formative years develop under the backdrop of what comes to be known as The Slowing. It was a pleasant surprise.
I like well-written, interesting, coming of age stories. And (unfortunately!), I related to Julia a little more than I’d like to admit. She experiences the oh-so-familiar rite of passage among 10 year old girls of the incomprehensible conversion of a best friend’s love turned to scorn overnight. She watches her parent’s relationship without understanding, and without their presence. She sees illness, hate, discrimination and death in her family and community. She fails the navigation of first crushes and first kisses. And all the while fearing that the world may end any day. (Of course, didn’t it feel that way to all of us at 10 years old?)
*sigh* I do not miss junior high.
But, like most of us, Julia eventually finds a kindred spirit who stands beside her in heartbreak. And who, of course, is the source of a heartbreak bigger than she had yet experienced, but who’s friendship is the sweet that makes worth the bitter.
Julia reminisces about what she’s experienced, and wonders if it’s due to the slowing. If the relationship changes, the chaos, the turmoil, would have been smoother and muted if the world kept spinning as it always had.
I’m afraid not, Julia. Different, maybe, but no less confusing. And no less miraculous.
K’s rating of The Age of Miracles: 8/10 mangoes