Horror in the Ordinary

Random House scheduled The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker for release later this summer. Not everyone should buy the book. It is not for anyone for whom depression is a problem. It is not for readers whose vivid imagination causes the horror and fear from the story to leak over into their real lives. This book is for people captivated by a compelling story written with insight and skill.

In an era when dire predictions sell everything from bottled water to bomb bunkers, Ms. Walker introduces us to a scenario for which no preparation is possible: the planet slows the spin on its axis. She invites us into this world through the eyes of an 11-year-old American girl. The horror becomes genuine as she describes the ways this catastrophe distorts Julia’s life. (It reminds me of Anne Frank’s Diary.) Even trivial-seeming events become important in capturing the terrible truth of the beginning of humanity’s end.

I was disappointed with the book’s ending. The Age of Miracles ended with an empty wheeze. No happily-ever-after ending would have worked. Nevertheless, even sad books can have a satisfying ending. In my opinion, Ms. Walker could have cut the last two sentences from chapter 34, pasted them at the end of the paragraph in chapter 33 where she told about the wet cement and deleted the rest of the book. Read the book and see if you agree.