Customer Review

212 of 243 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The miracle is life itself, April 26, 2012
This review is from: The Age of Miracles: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Karen Thompson Walker's THE AGE OF MIRACLES is an extraordinary novel about a young girl struggling with the inevitable changes in her life. Eleven-year-old Julia is going through the same things all of us do as we grow up - her parents are confusing and contradictory, her best friend seems to have forgotten she's alive, and the boy she's had a crush on since forever is as inconstant as the moon (as Shakespeare would say!), acting like her friend one day and a complete stranger the next. Add to all this the changes in her body, the drama at the bus stop, and new challenges at school, and you get a real glimpse into what it's like for a girl on the edge of maturity. Walker's insight into female coming-of-age is remarkable.

And then, on top of it all, there's the novel's setting - THE AGE OF MIRACLES takes place during a genuine catastrophe of astronomical proportions. For some inexplicable reason, the Earth's rotation has begun to slow down, meaning the length of the day is increasing little by little until the periods of darkness and light are so long that it takes multiple twenty-four hour periods just to see the sun rise. The ramifications of this are profound, both on the people in Walker's world and on the world itself. When it's revealed that the Earth's magnetic field has shifted, it becomes very clear that things will never be the way they once were.

The best part of THE AGE OF MIRACLES is Julia's story, and only a small part of that story has to do with the so-called "slowing" of the Earth's rotation. In a way, the science-fiction aspect of the novel is merely a backdrop to the very real and identifiable coming-of-age story. Since the novel is narrated by sixth-grader Julia, we never get any real information on the scientific basis of the "slowing" or the physics of its implications. In structure, the novel reminded me of the recent film ANOTHER EARTH, which was ostensibly about the discovery of a new planet that was a mirror image of our Earth, but was really the story of how one young woman came to terms with guilt. Like the film, AGE OF MIRACLES is ostensibly about the changes our planet must face as its rotation continually slows, but it's really about the changes a young girl must face as she grows up in this ever-changing world.

Walker's thesis is that we can't predict what the future will bring - try as we might to prepare for disaster, things will happen that are unexpected and uncontrollable. Julia's mother hoards canned food, people argue about whether to live "by the clock" or by the rising and setting of the sun, neighbors turn against each other, and the rotation of the Earth continues to slow. And Julia continues to grow up. THE AGE OF MIRACLES is a beautifully written novel that offers a very real insight into the changes we all experience as we live our lives. The miracle is that in spite of everything, we keep on living. I recommend THE AGE OF MIRACLES without reservation. It is a novel you will not soon forget.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 17, 2012 11:23:10 AM PDT
mike t says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 1, 2012 10:48:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2012 10:51:38 AM PDT
Melinda says:
If you define miracles as: "effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause" (Dictionary.com), the book takes on a very different tone than you have implied, but your thesis still remains solid. I don't think the miracle is life itself, as you posit, but rather the darker definition as I quoted above. The book struck me more as a dying of the world, dying of youth, dying of innocence--very dark--as told by a naive and innocent, tender young girl forced to make sense of it all. I agree it is her story that is the best part, but my complaint with Walker's "insight into female coming-of-age" being "remarkable" is that an adult woman writing from the perspective of a very young girl should demonstrate remarkable insight, and in fact, should be much much less aware than Walker's voice of Julia. Not being flippant, really quite serious, being faced with this scenario of events... the "miracle" might have been that they all just didn't off themselves.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 8:52:37 AM PDT
kacunnin says:
PageEater, I'm not sure that the "supernatural cause" element of your proposed definition of miracles is what the author had in mind. If anything, "miracle" in the novel seems to suggest randomness, and our ability to cope with it.

I do get your darker reading, especially when it comes to the ending.

Thanks for your comment, PageEater.

kacunnin

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2012 8:31:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 3, 2012 8:34:38 AM PDT
Melinda says:
Agreed-I'm not absolutely sure either, but when I saw that definition I had to re-evaluate the obvious (the cliche the "miracle of life") and thought the alternative definition put the book into a whole different light, one that did make more sense to me. The title and the body of the book are so incongruent in many ways. The regret filled voice that looks back at the story did not sound like a person that was moved by the miracle of life! I know only a few authors, but they tell me that they always write with meanings that mainstream readers seem to pass over, taking the common and comfortable path through the read insterad of catching the true meanings. It's good to look at a book with an outside the box approach. There is often more meaning than what is obvious. It all makes reading a shared and persoanl experience. Thank you for your reply!

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 1:04:06 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

3.8 out of 5 stars (937 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (351)
4 star:
 (268)
3 star:
 (170)
2 star:
 (91)
1 star:
 (57)
 
 
 
$26.00 $19.33
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Reviewer

kacunnin
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   

Location: Bowie, MD USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 452