Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Age of Miracles

by Karen Thompson Walker
July 17-30, 2012

Well there's a transition for ya. From a sex-crazed masochist to the eminent end of the world. Interesting. I'd read lots of praise for The Age of Miracles, so I was eager to get started.

The earth's rotation is slowing. Subtly at first, then more noticeable. Toward the end, a day lasted nearly 72 hours. Gravity soon became a victim, as did agriculture and the environment. 11-year old Julia tells the story of how it affected her town, family, friends and life in general. The government decided to keep the world on "clock time," meaning they still acknowledged a day as being 24 hours long. The result was school days in complete darkness and sleeping during "white nights." There were rebels as well; individuals who decided to live by the cycle of light; teaching themselves to stay awake and sleep for sometimes 24 hours straight, respectively.

The premise is great. In her literary debut, Walker has such a gift with storytelling that even the tone was quiet and slow. Although the world changed and the situation was stressful, I felt calm reading each chapter. The problem for me, though, was that I felt the book was a constant progression, building up to something that never came to be. And it got very repetitive. I was waiting for something "bigger" to happen, yet Julia went on with her life. It began to feel like I was reading a list of new things that were happening to the earth, and the list seemed the same chapter after chapter. Not that I wanted scientific detail, but I wanted the author to be more descriptive. But, the last lines of the story had a certain finality to them:

"We dipped our fingers in the wet cement, and we wrote the truest, simplest things we knew—our names, the date, and these words: We were here."

The bottom line is that I wanted more. But because the writing was so eloquent and Julia was such a likable little girl, I sailed through to the end. For me, the book was so close, but didn't quite reach its full potential.

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