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The Age of Miracles Hardcover – Large Print, August 1, 2012
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This wasn't a post-apocalyptic novel. It was more of a mid-apocalypse novel, which made it that much more fascinating. As a reader, you are there for the first "oh, I'm sure this will all blow over and we'll have a good laugh at those who overreacted" reactions. Then you get to watch everything change, one seemingly small impact at a time.
Even better, it was told from the perspective of a thoughtful but realistically self-centered 12-year old girl. She is unpopular and overlooked, but she shows this without wallowing in melodramatic self-pity. (Well, okay, maybe there is the occasional "Maybe loneliness was imprinted in my genes, lying dormant for years but now coming into full bloom." but I will allow it.)
The earth slows down. Just a little, a few minutes, at first. Then hours. Until "a day" runs on for days. Until birds fall out of the sky, and whales beach themselves, and the Northern Lights show up around the equator. "Only later did we discover that the solar storm had wiped out the cell phone satellites. A million desperate calls flew into space that day but landed nowhere."
This is YA, but like all good YA, you don't know it. "This was middle school, the age of miracles, the time when kids shot up three inches over the summer, when breasts bloomed from nothing, when voices dipped and dove. Our first flaws were emerging, but they were being corrected."
I loved it. One of those books so realistic that real life starts to feel surreal. A book to make you appreciate the sun rising and setting as it should.
With that premise and the bizarre effects caused by such a thing--all plant life dying, super radiation from the sun, a shifting magnetic shield--the main story is about 11-year-old Julia who is at that most awkward and painful of ages: sixth grade. This is the story of Julia making friends, losing friends and falling in love as only a middle schooler can.
It is the age of miracles--when the boy does notice you, when you figure out who you really are and you learn what friendship really means. But this is no ordinary coming of age for Julia, since she is living in a time when life as we know it on Earth is irreparably changing in ways no one ever anticipated.
The writing is excellent, but even more important is that Walker made me suspend all rational, scientific thought to believe the impossible could happen--at least in this terrific story.