The Age of Miracles is a coming of age story against the backdrop of a celestial/environmental disaster. Rather than going into great detail about the science behind the event, the novel focuses on how the seemingly mundane aspects of life are affected by our actions when we no longer can take the stability of the world around us for granted.
Goodreads summary: “On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old 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.”
Even though the exact changes of Earth are different, I was immediately reminded of Spin, a book I loved when I read it last year for CBR6. Like Spin, The Age of Miracles is as much a character study as a speculative sci-fi book. The two aren’t very similar otherwise, but the backbone of both is human introspection.
It was occasionally painful to read, because the depiction of an ostracized girl at that age (literally “the age of miracles” in the text), where uncontrollable changes in ourselves and our bodies form unavoidable social hierarchies, was too real. At the same time, that sharp discomfort really grounded the story, because an 11-going-on-12 year old is certainly going to feel the pain of social isolation more acutely than an abstract doomsday possibly looming in the future.
There was only one thing about this book that left me cold, and that, unfortunately, was the ending, or more accurately, non-ending. It kind of seemed like Thompson had constructed this really interesting sci-fi concept, but by focusing on the reactionary potential of one small community of people and not on the detail behind the concept, she wasn’t really sure how to draw it to a conclusion. Furthermore, even the people she focuses on just rather trail off. It’s like she just got tired of writing… very disappointing. Still, I’d recommend the book for the poignant pre-teen point of view and intriguing concept.