Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: The Age of Miracles

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: The Age of Miracles
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Pages: Paperback; 288
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Nothing of note.
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who like realistic fiction, coming of age stories, and dystopian reads.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old 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—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

The Age of Miracles is definitely much different than anything I've gotten my hands on lately. Beautiful, eerie, and prosaic, this book walks the line between being a coming of age story and a dystopian one. Julia's family is caught in a world that is slowly deteriorating. The Earth is slowing its rotation, days and nights are getting longer, humanity as we know it is in survival mode. Caught up in all this is Julia herself, a young adolescent who is just trying to navigate her own life. Imagine having all the problems you do now, but with the addition of worrying about whether tomorrow will bring famine, huge earthquakes, or worse. That's Julia's reality.

Julia is a bit of an outsider. She observes everything, and reports back to the reader what is happening around her. Her life is spent between dealing with everyday issues, like being the only girl at school who doesn't yet wear a bra, and the issues that come with her new world, like wondering if tomorrow there will be food to eat. What I completely loved about this book though is that it really isn't dreary. Julia's story does have a fair share of hardship and woe. However what she chooses to focus on most times are the good parts. Her boy. A sunny day. The feeling of belonging. It is a wonderful testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

I'm not going to deny that Mrs. Walker's story definitely rattled me. The catastrophe that occurs in Julia's world is one that could honestly take place. The attention to detail is wonderful, and the dystopian world that is built is entirely believable. Every problem that occurs is explained with a mixture of facts and sweeping prose. In fact, the writing is so beautiful that I was lost in it more than once. This is a story that you will definitely read from cover to cover. Don't expect to put it down. Once you fall in love with Julia and her story, you'll want to see it through to the end.

The Age of Miracles is a story of survival. It's a story of adaptation. Above all else, it's a story of a young girl who is just trying to find herself in an ever-changing world. This is a gorgeously written book, and one that is well worth your time. If you are looking for something that will have you thinking long after you've put it down, this is one to add to your reading list. Thank you to Karen Thompson Walker for showing us the strength of the human spirit through the eyes of one young girl.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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