Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This was an engrossing read, but it was not what I expected.  With her debut novel Walker has depicted a world uncomfortably familiar to our own.  The book is centered on a young girl and her family trying to go about living as normally as they can; when the Earth begins to turn more slowly. Every hour more minutes seep in and soon the clock is no longer in sync with the sun.  People are forced to make a choice; stick with the clock or remain tethered to the sun.

Julia, the novel’s protagonist, is a middle school student who feels as if her world is falling apart and unfortunately she’s right.  As Julia’s personal relationships begin to crumble, so does the world as we know it.  Unlike in my favorite disaster flicks however, tornados do not spring out of nowhere in downtown Los Angeles and the White House is not blown off the face of the Earth by an asteroid.  The consequences of “the slowing” are felt much more gradually by Walker’s characters and it is truly unsettling to read about. 

Your whole life people tell you not to take things for granted.  Never before had I considered the rise and set of sun or the whole of the natural world to fall in this category.  While reading I caught myself glancing out the window to check if the trees still stood outside.

Verdict: You may think you have nothing in common with the young protagonist, but I guarantee you that you do.  You are a human being living on planet Earth during the 21st century.  That’s all it will take to be moved by this novel.

But don’t take my word for it.  See what others have to say:


“Part speculative fiction, part coming-of-age story…The Age of Miracles could turn Walker into American literature's next big thing.”--NPR

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)

“Karen Thompson Walker takes a fantastic premise and makes it feel thrillingly real.”
-Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

“It’s glowing magic – at once a love letter to the world as we know it and an elegy.”
~Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake


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