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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker

"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.

There's always been some wonder and sometimes worry about the Earth and its rotation. What would happen if it stopped? How would it affect the people, animals, plants? How do you respond? How would the world manage itself? It's something to consider, but hopefully never to experience.

But don't misunderstand me, this is not a "science-y" book. There is just enough science as it fits into the story, but it doesn't overpower it. More important is the story of Julia, a teenager who faces the normal issues of high school and family dynamics, all viewed through a lens of 24 hours of daylight, every rotation of the Earth. She learns things about her family she never imagined, but always lurked below the surface in the "normal" world.

Karen Thompson Walker took a sci-fi story line and gave it a YA drama treatment. And you know, it works. It's not a sci-fi story with some awkward romance and family angst thrown in. No, it's really a well done YA novel with some sci-fi/fear-of-the-unknowable thrown in. I caught myself talking about the science, even looked up some of the what-if websites. It's got enough there to make a reader think, or not, whichever he or she chooses.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Random House through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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