This is one of those books that has a terrible description on Amazon and Goodreads. They both call it “haunting.” Amazon says it’s a “story of people finding ways to go on, in an ever-evolving world.” Goodreads says it’s “about coming of age during extraordinary times.” Pardon me if I’m being obtuse, but isn’t every fiction book about people finding ways to go on, in some way or another? If someone hands you a YA book and says it’s about coming of age in an extraordinary time, are you going to say, “About time, no one’s ever written one of those before!” This sat on my to-read shelf for years before I finally got around to it, which is a shame, because this is a pretty cool little book, and deserves better than those vague accolades.
Julia is 11 years old and lives in Southern California. One day she wakes up to realize, along with the rest of the world, that the Earth’s revolution is slowing. Gravity is affected, the birds start dying, the whales are beaching themselves, the days keep getting longer and longer, and the scientists have no idea what’s happening. Meanwhile, average people are still trying to go about their daily lives. Julia is coping with middle school and struggling to fit in. Her parents’ marriage is disintegrating.
The tone of this book reminded me so much of The Virgin Suicides. They’re both about adolescents struggling through a tough period of life, set against a backdrop of decay. Julia’s world is falling apart, both literally and figuratively. Like the boys in The Virgin Suicides, all she can do is watch.
The sci-fi component of this is pretty cool, and pretty creepy, but make no mistake that this is YA lit first, and sci-fi second. If you’re interested in whys and hows behind the premise, you won’t find them. Julia is a child when “the slowing” starts, and we don’t know any more than she does. Still, it’s a fascinating element. I’m not a fan of most straight-up literary fiction, so I never would have read this without the sci-fi angle, and there was enough of it throughout the book to keep me interested. I liked this book.