I hope suburban Cali is ready for a dystopian future. Cause it’s coming on fast (or should I say slow) in The Age of Miracles. Our eleven-year-old protagonist and narrator, Julia, just woke up to discover that the days are getting longer. And not in a good way. The rotation of the Earth has dramatically begun to slow down. One apocalypse, coming right up.
1. Julia’s father Joel is a doctor specializing in high-risk births. When one of his patients dies on his late-night shift, Joel lies to Julia about the woman’s death. Is it okay to lie to someone to protect them from a sad truth? Let’s say, for example, that this person is on vacation and she’s having a really great day? It’s okay under those circumstances, right?
2. Julia prizes the gold-nugget necklace that her Grandfather once gave her. The necklace is lost when she is brutalized by her schoolmate Daryl as he attempts to expose her lack of a training bra. Why does she never recover the necklace? Even towards the end of the book. Not even on the very last page. What do you think happened to the necklace and where is it now?
3. Seth’s mother is dying of cancer. Julia tries to help Seth save a dying sparrow by giving it water. Daryl intervenes and throws the bird over the side of the canyon to its death. Seth returns the favor by throwing Daryl’s backpack over the side of the canyon. What items do you think Daryl’s backpack contained? What’s the deal with Daryl?
4. Seth’s mother has died. As conditions on the planet worsen, Julia tries to help Seth comfort one of the many dying whales that have beached themselves alongside the canyon. They carefully choose what they believe to be the most needy whale. After pouring their meager supply of saltwater over the creature’s brow, they are informed by the man with the white pail that the whale is already dead. Why do you think the pail was white? If the pail had been a different color, how would it have changed the story?
5. Later, Julia is invited to Seth’s house to watch the night sky as the Orion rocket is scheduled to return from space. Seth offers Julia a Coke and some pretzels. Given Seth’s apparent obsession with providing comfort to the doomed and dying, should Julia be a little worried? If you were Julia, would you hang out with Seth?
6. When asked, should an author be expected to answer questions regarding an unresolved issue contained in one of her books? If you were an author and you were contacted by a reader inquiring about a certain missing necklace, how would you respond?
7. Let’s say you, as the hypothetical author, do provide a response, but it’s one of those wishy-washy “up to the interpretation of the reader” kind of answers. Do you think the reader is justified in pursuing a more-definitive clarification?