Julia is a sensitive eleven-year-old girl who is experiencing a lot of changes around her at the same time. She lives in California near the coast. The Slowing is something that has altered the lives of everyone on the planet. The plot of The Age of Miracles by Karen Walker Thompson shows the effect of a natural problem has on everyone through the eyes of an adolescent young girl.
The Earth has slowed down, meaning that every notion everyone has about the concept of days and nights or the twenty four hour format of a whole day is rendered immaterial overnight (Walker). Day and night both grew longer and experts announce that this phenomenon would have staggering effect on every other natural event: crops would be affected massively and the slowing would prove to be devastating for the world’s food supply. Julia and her best friend Hannah learn about the earth’s change from the television and Julia experiences a whirlpool of changes right after this (Walker). The gravitational pull of the planet changes and birds begin to die due to that.
While everything of the planet’s functions change, it seems that even humans and their behavior are also affected by the sudden slowdown of the earth’s rotation. Everyone receives the news and reacts to it in different ways. Panic reigns all around and justifiably so. One of the most interesting things of the novel is the contrast in the behavior of Julia’s parents. Julia describes her mother’s behavior as overdramatic at times and that she overstates almost everything or that she talks about “god awful” things on a regular basis (Walker). She, while going out once to the grocery store in the morning learns about the slowing of the planet and upon arrival to the house lets the others know as well. Helen panics and starts to think what would happen or what effects may this new natural problem on the lives of the people. She cannot sit properly and has to drink whiskey in order to calm herself down.
On the other hand, Julia’s father, Joel is as calm as one can be. He is a doctor who delivers babies. To him, concluding upon anything with a good and wide source of proof is something that seems to be a bearer of flawed results. He stays calm and watches what the news reporters, the scientists, the experts on different matters all say about the slowdown (Walker). However, he remains calm throughout the news presentations and asks Helen to do the same as being panicky would not be helpful anyhow. He even says that Julia should not be watching the TV as it may have negative effects on her and make her thinking or judgement clouded. He does act and seem very practical, but at times it hits as if like being too emotionless. He pleads to his daughter to stop thinking about it and insists on her to come outside the house and play soccer with him.
Julia’s mother gets annoyed with Joel as she thinks he is not taking things seriously and his calm makes her uneasy. She asks him not to go to work that day and stay home with his family. But Joel, being cynical of the entire condition and skeptical about its effects, brushes off her request and goes to work anyhow. He holds his responsibilities over anything else that shows his moral strength in comparison to his wife. He calmly tries to explain to his family that things are unlikely to change so drastically (Walker). Helen, remains unconvinced by her husband’s assurances and starts to prepare for a calamity nonetheless. She stocks up on flashlights and starts storing food. Joel does not think too much about the slowdown and even works double shifts because most of the staff at the hospital where he works do not show up. When he comes back home and learns that Julia knows about the death of the woman at the hospital he genuinely becomes upset, which shows his nature to protect his daughter from any sort of disturbing news.
The difference in their attitude and reception of the news made the relationship between Julia’s parents eventually turn into something bitter and her mother started to become more and more annoyed with him. While Julia’s father was cynical at first, he quickly accepted the change and tried to adapt to the change as soon as possible, making the transition as smoothly he could, her mother accepts the change but denies to adapt accordingly. Joel seems much more practical and receptive, as well as adaptive, in a calm way, trying to understand what is going on. Julia’s mother is much more rigid and full of tension and panics (Walker). The contrast between the character of the two people is established through their behavior and their perceptions on the matter of the earth’s slowing down.