The Age of Miracles: Book summary and reviews of The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles

A Novel

by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2012
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

With a voice as distinctive and original as that of The Lovely Bones, and for the fans of the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles is a luminous, haunting, and unforgettable debut novel about coming of age set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

"It still amazes me how little we really knew... Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It's possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much."

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 - 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Riveting, heartbreaking, profoundly moving." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. [A] gripping debut… Thompson's Julia is the perfect narrator… While the apocalypse looms large - has in fact already arrived - the narrative remains fiercely grounded in the surreal and horrifying day-to-day and the personal decisions that persist even though no one knows what to do. A triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum, the story also feels eerily plausible, as if the problems we've been worrying about all along pale in comparison to what might actually bring our end." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. ...Don't get caught without it." - Library Journal

"What a remarkable and beautifully wrought novel. In its depiction of a world at once utterly like and unlike our own, The Age of Miracles is so convincingly unsettling that it just might make you stockpile emergency supplies of batteries and bottled water. It also - thank goodness - provides great solace with its wisdom, its compassion, and the elegance of its story-telling." - Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep

"Is the end near? In Karen Thompson Walker's beautiful and frightening debut, sunsets are becoming rarities, "real-timers" live in daylight colonies while mainstream America continues to operate on the moribund system of "Clock Time," and environmentalists rail against global dependence on crops that guzzle light. Against this apocalyptic backdrop, Walker sets the coming-of-age story of brave, bewildered Julia, who wonders at the 'malleable rhythms' of the increasingly erratic adults around her. Like master fabulists Steven Millhauser and Kevin Brockmeier, Karen Thompson Walker takes a fantastic premise and makes it feel thrillingly real. In precise, poetic language, she floods the California suburbs with shadows and a doomsday glow, and in this altered light shows us amazing things about how one family responds to a stunningly imagined global crisis." - Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

"This is what imagination is. In The Age of Miracles, the earth's rotation slows, gravity alters, days are stretched out to fifty hours of sunlight. In the midst of this, a young girl falls in loves, sees things she shouldn't and suffers heartbreak of the most ordinary kind. Karen Thompson Walker has managed to combine fiction of the dystopian future with an incisive and powerful portrait of our personal present." - Amy Bloom, author of Away

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Reader Reviews

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Mona B. (Phoenix, Arizona)

The Age of Miracles
The setting is in a small California town and is narrated by an 11 year old girl whose world is drastically changed as day by day the earths' rotation around the sun is shortened. Never knowing what to expect, she tries to maintain life as she's known it---part of a family consisting of mother, father and grandfather, in school where she struggles with friendships and the always difficult coming-of-age problems of self esteem, body image, and fashion all while trying desperately to attract the attention of one particular boy. Meanwhile, society is disintegrating ---there are battles between those trying to live by the 24 hr. "clock time" and those living on "physical time" corresponding with the ever lengthening hours of daylight and darkness. All the simple activities of daily life are altered, the food supply is at risk leading to hoarding and growing vegetables and fruits under artificial lights, utilities are strained, severe climate changes occur, and eventually solar radiation takes the lives of the people who venture out in the sunlight. This book is very thought-provoking, offering no solutions, but leaving one with a deeper appreciation of life as we know it today.

April D. (Monroe, NC)

Age of Miracles is Breathtaking
I rarely find debut novels truly great, but The Age of Miracles surprised me. The Age of Miracles is Julia's recollection of the day everything changed. It was disturbing and the voice of the young protagonist, Julia, was haunting. I highly recommend this book for adults and young adults alike.

Carole V. (West Linn, Oregon)

Thoughtful book
This book will stick with you; I loved it, and it's a book that I won't soon forget. Julia is a normal 6th grader, but nothing in the world is normal. Not only does she have the daily life issues - first love, friend that dumps her - but the Earths rotation is slowing down and days are growing longer every minute. The world's crisis is told from her point of view; this is not a scientific book that explains what and why in a scientific manner. Rather, it shows the catastrophic 'slowing' from a personal level from real people; a young girl and her parents. Get this book; you will not be sorry.

Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)

Intriguing concept delivered with a unique voice
From the first page this book captured my heart. Julia, the young narrator of the story, feels very real, and the author's ability to show how people react to changing circumstances is uncanny. Not only is the story intriguing, the author's use of spare, elegant language, along with her insights into human nature, make this a must-read book. Once I started it, I could not put it down, and I've recommended it to several friends. I look forward to more work from Karen Thompson Walker.

Alexandra S. (Chicago, IL)

Miraculous
From start to finish, I found this book riveting. The Age of Miracles tells the story of young girl coming of age right as the world as we know it, ceases to exist. The impossible becomes possible and rotation of the earth begins to slow, days become longer, nights become colder, the laws of gravity fail us and all through these miraculous times, Julia still experiences the normal growing pains of a young girl. The lose of friendships, her first crush, buying a bra and everything in between.

The world around Julia may be changing, but her story is timeless.

The Age of Miracles is a fantastic read and I look forward to reading more books from Ms. Walker

Linda P. (MEDFORD, WI)

What If?
Something is terribly wrong. Everything that you took for granted can no longer be counted on. The narrator is 11, dealing with middle school issues, and something too terrible to contemplate. The writing is flawless. This author is someone to return to. The subject makes you think---what if? I highly recommend this novel for YA & adults.

...22 more reader reviews

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Karen Thompson Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program and a recipient of the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb magazine fiction prize. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work. Born and raised in San Diego, she now lives in Brooklyn with her husband. The Age of Miracles is her first book.

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