The Age of miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker









The Age of miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker

Summary
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People ? O: The Oprah Magazine ? Financial Times ? Kansas City Star ? BookPage ? Kirkus Reviews ? Publishers Weekly ? Booklist 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. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "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

Characters
NameJulia
GenderFemale
Age


Genre
Coming of age
    --
Fiction
    --
Science fiction
    --

Topics
Family
Life changes
Earthquakes

Setting
California -- West (U.S.)





NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People ? O: The Oprah Magazine ? Financial Times ? Kansas City Star ? BookPage ? Kirkus Reviews ? Publishers Weekly ? Booklist 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. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "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





Karen Thompson Walker is the author of The Age of Miracles , which was a New York Times bestseller. She was born and raised in San Diego and is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work--sometimes while riding the subway. She currently lives in Iowa with her husband.





Eleven-year-old Julia awakens on a Saturday morning in her suburban California home to find the world irrevocably altered. Somehow, Earth's rate of rotation has slowed. Julia's physician father and former-actress mother struggle with their own fears as they try to maintain the normalcy of soccer games and piano lessons. Neighborhoods and friendships fracture after families make conflicting choices in coping with the lengthening and unpredictable days. Julia's perspective here is mature because she is looking back on events that began several years in the past, but the accounts of middle-school bullying and cliques ring true, and her coming-of-age struggles are universal even in these heightened circumstances. VERDICT A former editor at Simon & Schuster, Walker sparked a bidding war with this timely and engaging debut. Film rights have already been sold, and the buzz is growing for another entry in child--narrated fiction, which has done well of late (see Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). This work demands inclusion in any "If You Liked The Hunger Games..." readers' advisory list or discussion and should have the same YA/adult, fiction/sf crossover appeal. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]-Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll.-Northeast, TX (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.





In this gripping debut, 11-year-old Julia wakes one day to the news that the earth's rotation has started slowing. The immediate effects-no one at soccer practice; relentless broadcasts of the same bewildered scientists-soon feel banal compared to what unfolds. "The slowing" is growing slower still, and soon both day and night are more than twice as long as they once were. When governments decide to stick to the 24-hour schedule (ignoring circadian rhythms), a subversive movement erupts, "real-timers" who disregard the clock and appear to be weathering the slowing better than clock-timers-at first. Thompson's Julia is the perfect narrator. On the brink of adolescence, she's as concerned with buying her first bra as with the birds falling out of the sky. She wants to be popular as badly as she wants her world to remain familiar. While the apocalypse looms large-has in fact already arrived-the narrative remains fiercely grounded in the surreal and horrifying day-to-day and the personal decisions that persist even though no one knows what to do. A triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum, the story also feels eerily plausible, as if the problems we've been worrying about all along pale in comparison to what might actually bring our end. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.





*Starred Review* This is the way the world ends: by gradually slowing down. When scientists reveal that the earth's rotation has been extended by 56 minutes, there is a minor panic. Twelve-year-old Julia doesn't really recognize what's happening sure, her drama-queen mother starts hoarding food, and she loses some school friends when their families leave town, but at first, life seems to go on as usual. Until the slowdown continues, and it isn't only by an hour anymore the days keep stretching, with no apparent return to normal. The world's governments agree to keep clock time, forcing everyone to stick to a 24-hour schedule, despite sunrise and sunset. Rebels known as real-timers are ostracized and harassed. Some people become afflicted with slowing syndrome, leaving them disoriented and prone to passing out, including Julia's mother, who causes a fatal accident due to a fainting spell. Studies document an increase in impulsive behavior in others, and those seemingly unaffected by the slowing find themselves making bad decisions. All of this has an impact on Julia, who sees her parents, teachers, and neighbors crumbling around her. All at once a coming-of-age story and a tale of a frightening possible future, this is a gem that will charm readers as well as give them the shivers.--Vnuk, Rebecca Copyright 2010 Booklist





The Age of Miracles By Karen Thompson Walker Random House Publishing Group ISBN: 9780812992977 1. We didn't notice right away. We couldn't feel it. We did not sense, at first, the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin. We were distracted, back then, by weather and war. We had no interest in the turning of the earth. Bombs continued to explode on the streets of distant countries. Hurricanes came and went. Summer ended. A new school year began. The clocks ticked as usual. Seconds beaded into minutes. Minutes grew into hours. And there was nothing to suggest that those hours too weren't still pooling into days, each the same, fixed length known to every human being. But there were those who would later claim to have recognized the disaster before the rest of us did. These were the night workers, the graveyard shifters, the stockers of shelves, and the loaders of ships, the drivers of big-rig trucks, or else they were the bearers of different burdens: the sleepless and the troubled and the sick. These people were accustomed to waiting out the night. Through bloodshot eyes, a few did detect a certain persistence of darkness on the mornings leading up to the news, but each mistook it for the private misperception of a lonely, rattled mind. On the sixth of October, the experts went public. This, of course, is the day we all remember. There'd been a change, they said, a slowing, and that's what we called it from then on: the slowing. "We have no way of knowing if this trend will continue," said a shy bearded scientist at a hastily arranged press conference, now infamous. He cleared his throat and swallowed. Cameras flashed in his eyes. Then came the moment, replayed so often afterward that the particular cadences of that scientist's speech--the dips and the pauses and that slight Midwestern slant--would be forever married to the news itself. He went on: "But we suspect that it will continue." Our days had grown by fifty-six minutes in the night. At the beginning, people stood on street corners and shouted about the end of the world. Counselors came to talk to us at school. I remember watching Mr. Valencia next door fill up his garage with stacks of canned food and bottled water, as if preparing, it now seems to me, for a disaster much more minor. The grocery stores were soon empty, the shelves sucked clean like chicken bones. The freeways clogged immediately. People heard the news and they wanted to move. Families piled into minivans and crossed state lines. They scurried in every direction like small animals caught suddenly under a light. But, of course, there was nowhere on earth to go. 2. The news broke on a Saturday. In our house, at least, the change had gone unnoticed. We were still asleep when the sun came up that morning, and so we sensed nothing unusual in the timing of its rise. Those last few hours before we learned of the slowing remain preserved in my memory--even all these years later--as if trapped behind glass. My friend Hanna had slept over the night before, and we'd camped out in sleeping bags on the living room floor, where we'd slept side by side on a hundred other nights. We woke to the purring of lawn mower motors and the barking of dogs, to the soft squeak of a trampoline as the twins jumped next door. In an hour we'd both be dressed in blue soccer uniforms--hair pulled back, sunscreen applied, cleats clicking on tile. "I had the weirdest dream last night," said Hanna. She lay on her stomach, her head propped up on one elbow, her long blonde hair hanging tangled behind her ears. She had a certain skinny beauty that I wished I had too. "You always have weird dreams," I said. She unzipped her sleeping bag and sat up, pressed her knees to her chest. From her slim wrist there jingled a charm bracelet crowded with charms. Among them: one half of a small brass heart, the other half of which belonged to me. "In the dream, I was at my house, but it wasn't my house," she went on. "I was with my mom, but she wasn't my mom. My sisters weren't my sisters." "I hardly ever remember my dreams," I said, and then I got up to let the cats out of the garage. My parents were spending that morning the way I remember them spending every morning, reading the newspaper at the dining room table. I can still see them sitting there: my mother in her green bathrobe, her hair wet, skimming quickly through the pages, while my father sat in silence, fully dressed, reading every story in the order it appeared, each one reflected in the thick lenses of his glasses. My father would save that day's paper for a long time afterward--packed away like an heirloom, folded neatly beside the newspaper from the day I was born. The pages of that Saturday's paper, printed before the news was out, report a rise in the city's real estate prices, the further erosion of several area beaches, and plans for a new freeway overpass. That week, a local surfer had been attacked by a great white shark; border patrol agents discovered a three-mile long drug-running tunnel six feet beneath the U.S./Mexico border; and the body of a young girl, long missing, was found buried under a pile of white rocks in the wide, empty desert out east. The times of that day's sunrise and sunset appear in a chart on the back page, predictions that did not, of course, come to pass. Half an hour before we heard the news, my mother went out for bagels. I think the cats sensed the change before we did. They were both Siamese, but different breeds. Chloe was sleepy and feathery and sweet. Tony was her opposite: an old and anxious creature, possibly mentally ill, a cat who tore out his own fur in snatches and left it in piles around the house, tiny tumbleweeds set adrift on the carpet. In those last few minutes, as I ladled dry food into their bowls, the ears of both cats began to swivel wildly toward the front yard. Maybe they felt it, somehow, a shift in the air. They both knew the sound of my mother's Volvo pulling into the driveway, but I wondered later if they recognized also the unusually quick spin of the wheels as she rushed to park the car, or the panic in the sharp crack of the parking brake as she yanked it into place. Soon, even I could detect the pitch of my mother's mood from the stomps of her feet on the porch, the disorganized rattle of her keys against the door--she had heard those earliest news reports, now notorious, on the car radio between the bagel shop and home. "Turn on the TV right now," she said. She was breathless and sweaty. She left her keys in the teeth of the lock, where they would dangle all day. "Something God awful is happening." We were used to my mother's rhetoric. She talked big. She blustered. She overstated and oversold. God awful might have meant anything. It was a wide net of a phrase that scooped up a thousand possibilities, most of them benign: hot days and traffic jams, leaking pipes and long lines. Even cigarette smoke, if it wafted too close, could be really and truly God awful. We were slow to react. My father, in his thinning yellow Padres t-shirt, stayed right where he was at the table, one palm on his coffee cup, the other resting on the back of his neck, as he finished an article in the business section. I went ahead and opened the bag of bagels, letting the paper crinkle beneath my fingers. Even Hanna knew my mother well enough to go right on with what she was doing--hunting for the cream cheese on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. "Are you watching this?" my mother said. We were not. My mother had been an actress once. Her old commercials--mostly hair care and kitchen products--lay entombed together in a short stack of dusty black videotapes that stood beside the television. People were always telling me how beautiful she was when she was young, and I could still find it in the fair skin of her face and the high structure of her cheekbones, but she'd gained weight in middle age. Now she taught one period of drama at the high school and four periods of history. We lived 95 miles from Hollywood. She was standing on our sleeping bags, two feet from the television screen. When I think of it now, I imagine her cupping one hand over her mouth the way she always did when she worried, but at the time, I just felt embarrassed by the way the black waffle soles of her running shoes were twisting Hanna's sleeping bag, hers the dainty cotton kind, pink and polka-dotted and designed not for the hazards of campsites but exclusively for the plush carpets of heated homes. "Did you hear me?" said my mother, swinging round to look at us. My mouth was full of bagel and cream cheese. A sesame seed had lodged itself between my two front teeth. "Joel!" she shouted at my father. "I'm serious. This is hellacious." My father looked up from the paper then, but still he kept his index finger pressed firmly to the page to mark his place. How could we have known that the workings of the universe had finally made appropriate the fire of my mother's words? Excerpted from The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher. Excerpted from The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.






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