The Age of MiraclesThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

what a premise! the earth slowly ceases revolving… damn.

our protag is an 11-year-old girl in a very un-girlish world. Walker does a really good job of telling this tale–the characterizations are thorough and apt, the 11-year-old and her friends sound like 11-year-olds, not wizened children. she keeps a sure hand on the events of the tale, both in the world and in the protagonist’s life.

it’s not the kind of book where you wonder how scientists or governments are going to Solve This Problem–cause, like, it’s just clearly way too big for humans to solve. and i can’t speak to the science of it. i don’t know whether events would unfold as she proposes in the book. but it all–events, characters, the world–feels very real.

but somehow it all ends up lacking real weight. the protagonist lacks the gravitas (although who would command the gravitas to comment on the end of our species, all the insects and birds and spiders and fish and critters, every plant and fern and patch of seaweed, is a really good question) and the reach to encompass it all. the adults, by and large, just keep going on about their business-as-usual. the government does the usual clumsy government things, but mostly keeps the lights on. there seems to be no one in the book able or willing to speak this ultimate ending.

it’s a lot to ask, from a first novel, but Walker chose this subject. and really, she did a pretty good job. but not quite enough.

i don’t know whether the que sera, sera attitude of most of the characters–keeping their heads down, thanking god that southern california isn’t a third-world, starving country, etc.–is meant to be a barely-veiled comment on how we are reacting to the advent of climate change. it certainly could be read that way. i think however that there is a big diff between cannot do and will not do, so for me the book doesn’t work as a climate change comment.

a good book. not a hollywood ending. all in its favor; but i wish it had dug a little deeper.

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