The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles

A Novel

Book - 2012
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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.

Praise for The Age of Miracles
"A stunner."--Justin Cronin
"A genuinely moving tale that mixes the real and surreal, the ordinary and the extraordinary, with impressive fluency and flair."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Gripping drama . . . flawlessly written; it could be the most assured debut by an American writer since Jennifer Egan's Emerald City ." --The Denver Post
"If you begin this book, you'll be loath to set it down until you've reached its end." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Provides solace with its wisdom, compassion, and elegance."--Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2012.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780812992977
Branch Call Number: WALKER K
Characteristics: 272 pages ; 25 cm.


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"The rotation of the earth has begun to slow and the environment is thrown into disarray. Julia is also coping with the fissures in her family, the loss of friends, the hopeful anguish of love and other normal disasters of everyday life." - Novelist

An engaging and powerful portrayal of a unique dystopian not-too-distant future. Twelve year old Julie wakes one Saturday morning to find that something has happened to the Earth's rotation: it has begun to slow.

From the critics

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Dec 08, 2020

Fresh and thoughtful book about the way people react to a catastrophe, whether positively or negatively. Written for the YA audience, this is still engaging and memorable for adults. It is written rather gently too, instead of being an exhausting "end of the world" story--readable in these complicated Covid times.

Nov 26, 2020

The Age of Miracles is a story about a young girl coming of age in a time when a cruel and unjust universe is trying to wipe out humanity. And by the end of the novel, you'll be convinced that the universe has the right idea.

Apr 29, 2020

Scarily realistic, this book is narrated by a girl who's own life is falling apart amidst the supposed end of the world. I enjoyed this book and found it impossible to put down! However, one negative was that the narration is very monotone and doesn't really have much personality. I understand that this could simply be the way the author wanted the narrator to be, but I personally found that it could sometimes make the book not very compelling. Other than that, a great book!

Jul 14, 2019

I read some reviews complaining that this book didn't live up to its hype. I must be living in a vacuum or something because I heard no hype, didn't know there was a bidding war in the publishing world, etc. I came across this accidentally and had no particular expectations beyond the usual every time I pick up any book belonging in a genre I enjoy: to be entertained, surprised, and made to think. This succeeded on all three counts.

This slow-moving story was nonetheless a page-turner (only 2 sittings for me) because I was thoroughly involved in the story. Julia is an 11-year old living in CA with her parents when the earth's rotation inexplicably begins to slow down. Walker, who has a gift for language, does an excellent job with both the soft-core sci fi aspects and the coming-of-age family drama. I really loved this novel until the end. I was disappointed and felt that Walker copped out a bit and didn't have the courage to answer the questions she raised. Still, very very good.

Vero_biblio Aug 09, 2018

A touching story told by a teen girl trying to come of age in a period of extreme uncertainty for humanity.

The rotation of the Earth has suddenly started to slow down, causing days and nights to grow longer and longer. Humans divide in two groups -- those living and sleeping according to the light, for hours and hours on end, and those keeping with the rhythm of a 24 hour day.

And that's on top of normal family and friendship dramas that a teen has to face...

SCL_Justin Aug 03, 2017

I don’t think I’m unreasonable in being disappointed in Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles. The concept of the book is that the planet’s rotation is slowing, and the protagonist is a 12-year-old girl in California just living her life, trying to deal with things like unpopularity and parental infidelity.

One one hand, the book had this science fictional concept of the earth slowing and days lengthening, which is kind of interesting and no more ridiculous than Life As We Knew It‘s moon suddenly getting all up in Earth’s face. But it’s written as if the author had no idea how seasons work (especially somewhere like Strathcona County). There’s a bit of lip-service to the madness that comes from white nights at extreme latitudes, but the idea that the sun going down at 9pm isn’t a terrifying thing seemed completely foreign to the author. There’s a bit of information tossed in about the earth’s magnetic field, but it was very cursory.

Also, all of the big problems that arise from this global catastrophe are kind of glossed over in simplistic ways. Not just that the 12-year-old protagonist glossed over them because she didn’t get them, but like the author didn’t think it through very hard and just had the idea of monolithic blocks that would react in certain ways across the continent if not the globe.

So it seems to me that the book wasn’t written to be a science fiction book, but a backdrop for this young girl’s story. Fine. I can get behind the idea of a coming of age story in the midst of global crisis. The science and sociology could have been passed off as niggling details to annoy me if the story of the girl was compelling, but I did not find it to be so. There was a boy, and a lack of friends, and death, and a cheating father. It wasn’t terrible, but it felt simplistic and too uninvolving to distract me from the issues I had with the end of the world.

It might be an okay YA book, but I think a lot of readers would be put off by the lack of plot. In any case, Life As We Knew It is a much better YA book in the same vein.

Apr 08, 2017

Personally I can't believe this book gets the positive reviews it does. It is a pretty depressing book with very little light or even insight to make the darkness worth it. When I was a teen I guess I was more into the "negative" so maybe that explains it, but I could hardly recommend reading this. It's a very definite downer, IMHO...

DBRL_KatSU Nov 25, 2016

This book starts when Julia and the rest of the world realize the earth's rotation has suddenly slowed, and will continue to slow. So it could seem like the start of a dystopian novel, but it's not. Instead, it's a coming of age story, complete with first love, family fissures, and the breaking of friendships, all set on the background of elongated days and nights, and society trying to define what is now "normal." This novel explores what might happen in the face of catastrophe: the government might mandate that people follow the 24-hour clock (despite the incredibly long stretches of day and night), some folks might rebel and attempt to live with the new schedule of the sun, but what becomes clear is that humans will always attempt to adapt and continue to live.
This is an excellent story that I would categorize as soft science fiction, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a little escapism, or a thought-provoking read.

Nov 14, 2016

Beautifully written, powerful & evocative, it is both a dystopian tale & a bittersweet "coming of age". Poignant, sad, yet strangely uplifting, those of us who have lived through achingly lonely teenage years will definitely relate to Julia, the spunky protagonist of this short novel. It seems that doomsday apocalyptic stories are in vogue right now; this one is quite different as it imagines a different premise from man-made plagues like The Passage; a slowing of the earth's rotation and its outcomes is envisioned here. It is a novelist's novel and if you enjoy splendid writing, you will love this; if you prefer a faster-paced nail-bitter you probably won't.

ArapahoeSarahD Sep 27, 2016

How would you survive in a world neither post-apocalyptic nor "normal"? Every day, the earth changes just slightly but the slower the earth spins, the more damage is done. Find out what happens and hope, you'll only ever "live" this in a fictional sense!

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Sep 28, 2012

Spare, unselfconscious, this debut novel is as startling in its premise as it is in its sense of "rightness." It is a small gem.

Julia, the narrator and main character, is an eleven-year Southern California only child whose mother, a part-time acting teacher, and father, an ob-gyn, respond to the world in markedly different ways, leaving Julia to occupy the middle ground linking them together. Her observing voice recalls, from a distance, the long-ago time when a day lasted 24 hours, divided predictably between darkness and light. But on the cusp of adolescence, Julia's ordinary concerns (flat-chestedness, popularity, soccer) are eclipsed by an epochal shift, soon named The Slowing: days are gradually lengthening, rendering "clock time" meaningless.

Julia's telling of this catastrophic change never strays into the histrionic. The result is completely, disturbingly believable novel that will resonate with YA and adult audiences alike.


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Jun 06, 2013

"But doesn't every previous era feel like fiction once it's gone? After a while, certain vestigial saying are all that remain....Similarly, even as they grew apart, my parents never stopped calling each other sweetheart."


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