The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker

London, February 2019

A coming-of-age tale with its tip towards adulthood the slowing of the earth on its axis.


Julia is eleven when the world receives news that the earth is slowing on its axis. No one at first understands the implications but soon enough, birds are falling from the sky, whales are beached and periods of light and dark grow longer so that day and night lose their meaning. This last point invites the government decision to live on ‘clock-time’ so that school is attended at midnight and bedtime can be at 9am.

This latter point creates a social divide, with a sector of society choosing to live as ‘real-timers’. For some reason, ‘clock-timers’ hate ‘real-timers’ and the latter are forced out of their neighbourhoods to create new hubs in the desert.

Away from all the sci-fi elements, Julia inhabits another world, one in which boys are mean to her at school her best friend finds a new best friend, her dad has an affair with her piano teacher and Julia falls in love with Seth.


The merging of the sci-fi story with Julia’s coming-of-age narrative feels a little jammed at times; her mother has a car accident due to a mysterious condition that has started since the earth’s slowing, her grandfather vanishes when making preparations to keep his family safe from the effects of the slowing. Many of the chapters begin with a sentence stating the average day’s length in house, but move onto deal with events in Julia’s ordinary life.

This was an interesting premise but I didn’t feel the sic-fi aspect was needed, or, that it may have worked well as a self-contained story in which it was the main focus, not the slight aside it felt like at times.


ordinary life.


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