Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

What would happen if the rotation of the Earth slowed down, stretching the days by minutes, then hours?  If a single day grew to over 50 hours long?

Julia is 11 years old when the slowing begins.  At first, the change is hardly noticeable - the streetlights come on too early, the sun sets a bit later than it should.  But then the birds begin to die - gravity is stronger, and airborne things have a harder time staying airborne.  First the grass dies, then the trees - with 20, then 30 hours of sun, followed by the long dark of night, crops cannot grow without greenhouses and sunlamps.  The magnetic field of the Earth disturbed, the whales can no longer navigate, and there are mass beachings.

As the rotation disintegrates, so does everyday life.  Julia's best friend Hannah, a Mormon, moves to Utah to wait for the end with her family.  Her science teacher vanishes, and her piano teacher, always a free spirit, is suddenly distrusted by Julia's mom.  People stockpile huge amounts of canned food and water.  Her parents drift apart, her mother affected by a mysterious illness simply called The Syndrome.  And as society splits between clock time and real time, the 24-hour day implemented by the government makes strangers of friends and neighbors.  Eerie, unsettling, and utterly compelling, this perfectly paced dystopian novel is one of this summer's must-reads!