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The Age of Miracles: A Novel Paperback – January 15, 2013
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Praise for The Age of Miracles
“[A] 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 … Ms. Walker maps [her characters’] inner lives with such sure-footedness that they become as recognizable to us as people we’ve grown up with or watched for years on television… [A] precocious debut…one of this summer’s hot literary reads.”--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“THE NEXT BIG FEMALE NOVELIST.” --Rolling Stone
“THE SUMMER BOOK.” --Vanity Fair.com
“[AN] EARTHSHAKING DEBUT.” –Entertainment Weekly
“Part speculative fiction, part coming-of-age story…The Age of Miracles could turn Walker into American literature's next big thing.”--NPR
“A tender coming-of-age novel.”--Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
“Walker creates lovely, low-key scenes to dramatize her premise…The spirit of Ray Bradbury hovers in the mixture of the portentous and quotidian.”--The New Yorker
“[Walker] matches the fierce creativity of her imagination with a lyrical and portentous understanding of the present.”--People (4 stars)
“This haunting and soul-stirring novel about the apocalypse is transformative and unforgettable.”--Marie Claire
“Quietly explosive … Walker describes global shifts with a sense of utter realism, but she treats Julia’s personal adolescent upheaval with equal care, delicacy, and poignancy.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
“If you begin this book, you'll be loath to set it down until you've reached its end… The Age of Miracles reminds us that we never know when everything will change, when a single event will split our understanding of personal history and all history into a Before and an After.” –The San Francisco Chronicle
“The perfect combination of the intimate and the pandemic…Flawlessly written; it could be the most assured debut by an American writer since Jennifer Egan's ‘Emerald City.’”--Denver Post
“Touching, observant and poetic.”--The Columbus Dispatch
“Simply told, skillfully crafted and filled with metaphorical unities, this resonant first novel [rings] with difficult truths both large and small.”--Kansas City Star
"The Age of Miracles lingers, like a faded photo of a happy time. It is stunning.”–Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Both utterly realistic and fantastically dystopian…The big miracles, Walker seems to be saying, may doom the world at large, but the little ones keep life worth living.”--Minnesota Herald Tribune
“[An] elegiac, moving first novel.”--Newsday
“Arresting… This book cuts bone-deep.” --Austin Chronicle
“Evocative and poetic...I loved this book from the first page.”--Huntington News
“Walker’s tone can be properly [Harper] Lee-esque; both Julia and Scout grapple with the standard childhood difficulties as their societies crumble around them. But life prevails, and the stunning Miracles subtly conveys that adapting.”--Time Out New York
“[A] gripping debut . . . Thompson’s Julia is the perfect narrator. . . . 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.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In Walker’s stunning debut, a young California girl coming of age in a dystopian near future confronts the inevitability of change on the most personal level as life on earth withers … She goes through the trials and joys of first love. She begins to see cracks in her parents’ marriage and must navigate the currents of loyalty and moral uncertainty. She faces sickness and death of loved ones. ... Julia’s life is shaped by what happens in the larger world, but it is the only life she knows, and Walker captures each moment, intimate and universal, with magical precision. Riveting, heartbreaking, profoundly moving.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“What a remarkable and beautifully wrought novel. In its depiction of a world at once utterly like and unlike our own, The Age of Miracles is so convincingly unsettling that it just might make you stockpile emergency supplies of batteries and bottled water. It also—thank goodness—provides great solace with its wisdom, its compassion, and the elegance of its storytelling.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep
“‘Miracles’ indeed. Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel is a stunner from the first page—an end-of-the-world, coming-of-age tale of quiet majesty. I loved this novel and can’t wait to see what this remarkable writer will do next.”—Justin Cronin, author of The Passage
“Is the end near? In Karen Thompson Walker’s beautiful and frightening debut, sunsets are becoming rarities, “real-timers” live in daylight colonies while mainstream America continues to operate on the moribund system of “Clock Time,” and environmentalists rail against global dependence on crops that guzzle light. Against this apocalyptic backdrop, Walker sets the coming-of-age story of brave, bewildered Julia, who wonders at the “malleable rhythms” of the increasingly erratic adults around her. Like master fabulists Steven Millhauser and Kevin Brockmeier, Karen Thompson Walker takes a fantastic premise and makes it feel thrillingly real. In precise, poetic language, she floods the California suburbs with shadows and a doomsday glow, and in this altered light shows us amazing things about how one family responds to a stunningly imagined global crisis.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
“This is what imagination is. In The Age of Miracles, the earth’s rotation slows, gravity alters, days are stretched out to fifty hours of sunlight. In the midst of this, a young girl falls in loves, sees things she shouldn't and suffers heartbreak of the most ordinary kind. Karen Thompson Walker has managed to combine fiction of the dystopian future with an incisive and powerful portrait of our personal present.”—Amy Bloom, author of Away
“The Age of Miracles is pure magnificence. Deeply moving and beautifully executed, Karen Thompson Walker has written the perfect novel for the global-warming age.”—Nathan Englander, author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges
“Reading The Age of Miracles is like gazing into a sky of constellations and being mesmerized by the the strange yet familiar sensation of infinity. Beautifully written, the novel lets the readers see the world within us and the world without with an unforgettable freshness.”—Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
“The Age of Miracles spins its glowing magic through incredibly lucid and honest prose, giving equal care and dignity to the small spheres and the large. It is at once a love letter to the world as we know it and an elegy.”—Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
“Gripping from first page to last, The Age of Miracles is itself a small, perfectly formed miracle: Written with the cadence and pitch of poetry, this gem of a novel is a wrenching and all-too-believable parable for our times, and one of the most original coming-of-age stories I have ever read. Karen Thompson Walker is the real deal.”—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
“The Age of Miracles is harrowing and beautiful on the ways in which those catastrophes already hidden about us in plain sight, once ratcheted up just a bit, provide us with a glimpse of the end of our species’ run on earth: the uncanny distress of hundreds of beached whales, or the surreal unease of waves rolling across the rooftops of beachfront houses. And as it does it reminds us of all of the miracles of human regard that will have taken place before then: the way compassion will retain its resilience, and the way, for those of us in love, a string of afternoons will be as good as a year.”—Jim Shepard, author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway (National Book Award finalist)
About the Author
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.
Top customer reviews
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That being said it was a very enjoyable read and I loved it.
For sixth-grade student Julia, the "slowing" couldn't have come at a more pivotal time. Not only has this change affected the world around her, it's wreaked havoc on her lifelong friendships, her classmates and soccer teammates are disappearing as their families flee California in search of safer ground, and she watches her parents' marriage begin its own disintegration. And as the world searches for answers, Julia is, too, only to different questions--Should she say something to the boy she likes? How does she figure out which bra to buy if her mother won't leave the house? Can she trust her parents if they don't know what's going on either?
Karen Thompson Walker's book, The Age of Miracles, is more than a book about a scientific phenomenon that affects the world. It's a book about coming of age into an uncertain world, an examination of how much we rely on routine and those who hew to accepted behaviors instead of question what we're told, and a look at how many simple joys we take for granted. I really enjoyed this book and found it very moving and thought-provoking. It moved a little slowly for me at times (I guess kind of like the Earth in the book), but this is a beautifully written book you'll keep thinking about.
But some books get inside your head, altering how you see your own life, even as you are reading them. Changing your perspective on the real world.
The Age of Miracles is one of those books. The Da Vinci COde had a little of the same effect - I never looked at his paintings in the same way again. But the Age of Miracles did it better. Without spoiling anything, I can say that the book begins with the mass-realisation that the earth's spin is slowing down. The phenomenon is termed The Slowing. I read the book in half a week, and found myself nervously watching the skies more than once over those few days. Was it me, or was the sunsetting very late? Did the moon look particularly orange and large, or did it always look like that at this time of year? Hmmmm.......
The premise behind the book is fantastic. A quarter of the way through, I was sure this would be a 5-star rating (only my second on Goodreads). The writing is great. The main character, being an 11-year-old girl, is the perfect heroine, insofar as the writer can never get TOO scientific, which suits the reader. There is enough science here to deal with, but it never gets annoyingly-complicated.
But I had one major gripe with the book. A third of the way through, I was waiting for the main plot to start. Two-thirds of the way through, I was still waiting. And at the end, it became apparent that there was to be no main story-line, apart from The Slowing, and how it effected everyone and everything over the course of a year. More of a memoir, than a novel.
Now, perhaps this was what the author intended. Maybe she thought that The Slowing was story enough in itself. And maybe she was right. I still was excited to get back to the book every night, and I enjoyed almost every part of it.
But there was the odd time where I felt a little patronised (for example, the effect on the tides was repeatedly explained, as if the reader mightn't have grasped it the first time) and most chapters began with a discription of some new effect The Slowing was having, all of which was interesting, but became a little repetitive. Had there been another narrative, a main storyline running through the book, I think The Miracle of Ages would have been a 5 star rating.
But even as it is, I would highly recommend it, especially to anyone with an interest in science or the environment. A great read.