Best of 2012 Series – Fiction: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Best of 2012 Fiction

Part of an ongoing series featuring some of the best books of 2012.

The Age of Miracles starts with a big summer blockbuster movie premise: 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, throwing the earth into disarray. Despite that sic-fi backdrop though, the debut novel by former Simon & Schuster editor Karen Thompson Walker is much more of a thoughtful, poignant story of a girl coming-of-age during an extraordinarily unusual time.

Heartfelt and mournful in tone, Julie’s story includes the normal aspects of middle school life–school girl crushes, problems with her parents, anxiety about her friends–against the backdrop of adjusting to the new normal that is the planet’s steady decline into dysfunction.

In an interview with NPR, Walker explained the how the idea for the story was something that came out of her upbringing in Southern California:

“When you live in California, especially as a child, you’re always half-aware that a huge natural disaster, especially an earthquake, could happen at any moment. But really, you don’t think about it very much, you know, you go on living,” she says. “That combination of daily life with looming disaster was something I was interested in.”

It’s a daily life made even more poignant by the novel’s possibility that Julia’s rite of passage may not be a passage at all, but rather an end.



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