I have a huge stack of books that I’ve finished reading (actually, I might have completed my Cannonball, hmmm…) but I just need to sit down and write the reviews. Well, today school started, and I find myself home with only one kid instead of three, so I might as well take advantage of the relative peace and quiet. My favorite book in the pile was The Age of Miracles.
The Age of Miracles is the story of Julia, a pre-teen middle schooler with a normal life: a crush on a rebel boy who doesn’t know she exists, a best friend who dumps her for no reason, worries about being like other kids, etc. But Julia is also the narrator of a very abnormal story — at the start of the book, the world learns that the Earth’s rotation is slowing down.
At first, this only adds a little bit of time every day, but soon, days and nights are lasting weeks. The world becomes divided between those that continue to live on the 24 hour clock (as mandated by the government), and those who live by the sun and moon (which is considered a criminal offense). Julia describes how she has to go to the bus stop in what seems like the middle of the night, and how hard it is to fall asleep when the sun is shining outside. She talks about how neighbors have turned against neighbors in an instant, and how her parents have grown apart. She loses some friends, but makes others that she never imagined possible. And she deals with a lot of tragedy for someone so young: she quickly learns more about illness and death than most kids her age.
We never learn much about what is happening to the world, or why, but the small changes that come about every day are dropped into the narration casually, which sometimes has a huge impact (for example, when she eats a grape, and then mentions as an aside that it was the last grape she ever tasted. Same with pineapple). It was the little things that really stuck with me, as opposed to the slow-going apocalypse.
I loved having Julia as the narrator of the story and seeing how while everything in the world is changing, some things — like growing up — always stay the same. Over the past few years, I’ve read a bunch of “dystopian” stories, many with teen narrators, and this is my favorite since Life As We Knew It.