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The Age of Miracles

By: Karen Thompson Walker

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Imprint: Random House Trade Paperbacks

Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780812982947

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Electronic | Audiobook Download

On Sale: | Pages: 304

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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.“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.
The Age of Miracles is a poignant hybrid, a sci-fi/coming of age novel that celebrates human resilience even as it breaks your heart.... Smartly and compassionately executed by Walker, a former Simon & Schuster publicist who lives in Brooklyn, the book is a heartfelt story told in a reverent, elegiac tone. Julia is looking back on the events she describes as she and her parents and friends try to navigate the new world order.... The novel's wondrous momentum rolls on with the insistence of the restless surf that swallows the beachfront homes; you can't stop reading if you try. Walker refuses easy solutions, instead offering up the revolutionary and bittersweet idea that stolen moments can give any life meaning: a few hours learning to ride a skateboard; running on the beach with a boy you're half in love with; the cool, sweet taste of the last grape you ever eat.
—Miami Herald
I read the last few chapters of Karen Thompson Walker's debut novel while sitting in my back yard on a balmy June morning. When I reached the end, I looked up at the blue sky and bright sun and realized that the day no longer felt lovely, but ominous: Walker's story had gotten under my skin. "The Age of Miracles" is both utterly realistic and fantastically dystopian.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
On one level, “The Age of Miracles” resembles Anne Frank's diary. Both Anne and Julia are caught up in significant change, with survival a constant uncertainty. Walker develops her two-level drama well, on the personal stage and on the global/environment arena. The only narrative problem is that Julia, who tells the story, seems far more perceptive than her years.... It's a humane, thoughtful, provocative book and highly original.
—San Antonio Express-News
This debut novel is itself testimony to the power of well-chosen words.... The author, a former Simon & Schuster book editor, wrote her manuscript in the mornings before she went to work. It glows with energy and precision, as if she is carrying the only flashlight through the ultimately bleak and empty streets of her California.... "The Age of Miracles" lingers, like a faded photo of a happy time. It is stunning.
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
What do we ask of a good read? Escape, release, characters to believe in, situations that convince us, especially fantastic ones. We must be compelled from one page to the next at a pace that feels just right - not too fast, never slow. Often the good read is cinematic, suggesting the inevitable movie. Karen Thompson Walker has suffused her first novel, "The Age of Miracles," with these qualities, and if you begin this book, you'll be loath to set it down until you've reached its end.... "The Age of Miracles" is equal parts coming-of-age novel and sci-fi adventure, although each feels underserved by Walker's careful, subdued tone, a gauzy obliqueness meant, perhaps, to reflect the uncertainty of the times, the maddening lack of specific information.... But then again, Walker can hit a bull's-eye, piercing the surreal heart of dailiness amid devastation.
—San Francisco Chronicle
THE AGE OF MIRACLES is an absolutely wonderful, magical debut. It's an inventive story, combining classic coming-of-age themes with the horror of natural disaster of apocalyptic proportions. Karen Thompson Walker perfectly balances the two, creating a seamless novel that is at once familiar and totally surprising. The language is straightforward, the characters complex, and the plot superbly paced. It is fantastic without fantasy, scary without outright terror, and lovely without sentimentality.
“The Age of Miracles” leaves us...only with the typical tropes of tween anxiety set awkwardly alongside the death of the planet.... Julia's parents are potentially interesting, but we don't see much beyond their exteriors: stoic dad, fearful mom. What works best is a shadow story about the “real-timers”... What “The Age of Miracles” would need to work, though, is more consistent quality. Its opening and closing chapters are fairly effective, but the bulk of the novel vacillates erratically between plain and melodramatic. Straining the ordinary pains of adolescence toward profundity, the story slowly winds down long before we get to the End.
—Washington Post
Simply told, skillfully crafted and filled with metaphorical unities, this resonant first novel has had remarkable pre-publication success. Foreign rights have been sold in 25 countries, and the movie rights have been optioned. Although not perfect — it sometimes reads a bit slowly, reflecting its subject perhaps too closely — this novel rings with difficult truths both large and small. Recalling Lydia Millet's brilliant end-time novel “How the Dead Dream” in its environmental awareness, Karen Thompson Walker's artful novel asks us, implicitly, to wake up before it's too late.
—Kansas City Star
What sets the story apart from more run-of-the-mill high-concept novels is Ms. Walker's decision to recount the unfolding catastrophe from the perspective of Julia, who is on the verge of turning 12. Her voice turns what might have been just a clever mash-up of disaster epic with sensitive young-adult, coming-of-age story into a genuinely moving tale that mixes the real and surreal, the ordinary and the extraordinary with impressive fluency and flair.... Ms. Walker has an instinctive feel for narrative architecture, creating a story, in lapidary prose, that moves ahead with a sense of both the inevitable and the unexpected.... “The Age of Miracles” is not without its flaws.... Such lapses, however, should not distract attention from this precocious debut — they certainly will not stop this novel from becoming one of this summer's hot literary reads.
—New York Times
"The Age of Miracles" is flawlessly written; it could be the most assured debut by an American writer since Jennifer Egan's "Emerald City." Yet the novel is curiously frictionless, and fades quickly from the memory. Judged on its own premises as a speculative novel it is slyly plausible. Looked at as a social commentary, though, it is incoherent and half-hearted.... As well made as it is, Age of Miracles doesn't hold up as anything more than an entertainment.
—Denver Post
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