The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Waiting for the end of the day never took so long.
Interests/Topics: physics, the apocalypse, environmental science, family relations, romance
Curriculum Connections: English, Physics, Science
Blurb: I don’t know of anyone who wants time to pass at a quicker rate. Sure, we are all anxious for our vacation to arrive or for a bad week to end, but most people want more time in the day. I’ve probably wished for extra hours at least a hundred times: when I was writing my graduate thesis or when I’m compiling report cards or whenever I’m on a beach chair in the Caribbean. I imagine having just a few more minutes with my mom before she died or a couple extra moments watching my daughter’s joy on Christmas morning. Oh, and what if we could prolong those days of falling in love? How wonderful would it be if we could draw out the hours spent in blissful, all-consuming happiness when everything in the world is working in our favor? But time has a funny way of not cooperating with our wishes: it just keeps on flying by at a reckless speed.
That’s one of the reasons Julia is so shocked one Saturday morning when scientists make the announcement that days are growing in length by 56 minutes each night. There is no explanation for “the slowing” (as the phenomenon has come to be called) other than those who claim that the earth is reacting to the extraordinary amount of human abuse and waste.
Julia is facing her teenage years with the usual trepidations: boy troubles, friend troubles, parent troubles. And now she has to deal with the earth’s rotation slowing to a crawl. Days last far too many hours, with the nights just as long; crops are scorched by relentless sunshine while the ground freezes during endless hours of darkness. And as to Julia’s emotions made turbulent by adolescence? You try staying centered while the earth’s gravity shifts.
Julia just wants her normal life back: a life where the sun rises in the morning and sets at night; a life where birds fly in the sky and whales stay in the sea where they belong; a life that may one day involve having a conversation with Seth, the cute guy at the bus stop. Is that too much to ask?
Flavour: “We didn’t notice it right away. We couldn’t feel it. We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin….The clocks ticked as usual. Seconds beaded into minutes. Minutes grew into hours. And there was nothing to suggest that those hours, too, weren’t still pooling into days, each the same fixed length known to every human being.” (3)
“We know now that the darkness lasted four minutes and twenty-seven seconds, but it seemed to stretch much longer. Time felt loose in those first few days. If it weren’t for the records—hundreds of people filmed the event—I’d still swear that at least an hour passed before the first glint of light reappeared in the sky…. A bleed of brightness was spreading directly overhead, a sliver of sun returned to us, as if by miracle. Now we could see the outline of the whole thing, a thin circle of light with a blinding bulge on one side, like a diamond on a ring.” (52-53)
“But no force on earth could slow the forward march of sixth grade. And so, in spite of everything, that year was also the year of the dance party…. I know that it was considered good fortune for a birthday to land on a dark night, the romance upped considerably by the moonlight and the stars. But as for the precise goings-on of these events, I couldn’t say. I was never invited.” (166-67)
“Of all the strange phenomena that befell us that year, maybe nothing surprised me more than the sound of that small question rolling out of Seth Moreno’s mouth: ‘Want to come?’ I can still remember the red diamond pattern of the library carpet, the way the opening and closing of the library doors caused the overhead flags to swing back and forth above our heads. ‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Okay, then,’ he said. And that was it.” (191)