What happens if the sun won’t go down?
“The age of miracles” by Karen Thompson Walker is short but it packs a lot in. Written from the viewpoint of Julia, a young teenager living an ordinary life in middle America, the story develops at a steady pace ending with her at age 23.
Suddenly, for no discernable reason, the Earth gains 90 minutes of daylight time overnight. Scientists are baffled, and can offer no solution to the additional side effects … birds dying, gravity feeling ‘heavier’, some people getting ill with some kind of motion ‘gravity’ sickness, changes in tides, magnetic fields, strength of the Sun’s rays reaching Earth. Each night, the Earth’s rotation continues to slow until soon each so-called (sunlight) day is 40 hours long.
Initially, humans attempted to adjust schedules daily but as the changes escalated, the Government decreed that everything will continue to run on clock time. So if you’re going to school at what feels like 2am, that’s just the way it is. Some people refuse and stick to real-time – that is, they stay up if it’s light and only sleep when it’s dark. Most of these people find themselves shunned by society and set up their own isolated communities. But as the daylight hours continue to extend, many are driven mad by lack of sleep, etc.
Although this book is sprinkled throughout with science, as this event unfolds, it’s mostly about relationships. Between Julia and her friends; young love; her parents relationship.
Most chilling to me was the description that this natural phenomenon was supposedly the same thing that leached away Mar’s atmosphere at some point in the far distant past. And that “Mother Nature” brought humanity to the brink of extinction in the blink of an eye, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
This book was not exactly enjoyable but it was unforgettable – the kind of book that haunts you long after you’ve finished it. A worthy debut.