Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dark Tales Reviews - The Age of Miracles

THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker
Ahoy!You won't find this book in the Young Adult section of your bookstore although at first glance it seems like the appropriate category. This is a quintessential coming-of-age story. For a teen summer read the verbiage makes for an easy read and the ample sprinkling of metaphor delicate. Not to say that the novel is lightweight. It has all the textbook trappings of a YA novel; first love, unstable domestic situation, illness, loss of loved ones and a daunting obstacle to overcome.  The point of view is a filter of teen malaise, everything is high drama, Romeo and Juliet, every new day bringing something new to mope and grouse about.
Except in Julia's world her reactions are, if anything, understated for the Earth is slowing its rotation which begins a domino effect of natural disasters that should make bullying and lunchroom alliances non-events. Not for Julia. What follows is one part dissertation on the breakdown of society and the malleable nature of Man and one part a chronicle of the transformation of child to adult.
The miraculous age refers not to the end of the world, but puberty when body's and mind's transform in strange and wonderful ways. The days and events that determine who we will become.
 A well respected, well read acquaintance of mine commented as she read this novel, "I'm waiting for something to happen." Excuse me? Its just the end of the world as we know it. People are drooping dead like the birds that fall from the sky. Neighbor vie against one another for survival. Crops wither and the future is as dark as the nights that grow longer each sunset.
Here's the one trick pony that is making this such a critic's favorite. This distopian future seen through Julia's eyes plays as melodrama because in her world view the world doesn't rotate around its core, it rotates, or should rotate, around her. When that is challenged, when it is realized to never have existed at all, that is a teen Armageddon far worse the erasing of suburbia.
This is a realization teens are already keenly aware of. Adults barely remember the stage production of puberty, how the little things stung and scarred. Behaps it is to avoid revisiting the pain and because in hind sight the events seem trivial in the grand scope of things.
I stand corrected. This book does belong in the General Fiction department alongside the grownup books for it is a reminder to us with our teen years in the rear view mirror how the little things matter.
THINK: Mean Girls written by Ray Bradbury.
1st LINE – “We didn't notice right away.”

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