Thursday, September 6, 2012
I don't believe in miracles, and thankfully this book isn't about miracles, so don't be afraid to read it. This book is about life on planet earth when earth decides to change course and throws humanity for a loop.
I loved The Age of Miracles. It's a beautifully written, well crafted coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old girl set against the backdrop of what would become a worldwide catastrophe. The earth has stopped rotating like it used to, and this creates longer days then longer nights. The 24 hour timeframe is no longer workable. People are thrown into disarray. People are getting sick. Crops aren't growing. Will humanity survive?
Julia is on the cusp of puberty. She's 11 about to turn 12, so she's finally noticing boys and also becoming aware of her surroundings and the adults who fill it. Julia struggles with bullying at school, with loss of friendships, with betrayal, while the world comes to terms with what is called "the slowing." Life as she knows it will never be the same, and not just because of this global phenomenon, but because she falls in love while witnessing what could possible be the end of her parents' marriage. This girl has a lot to deal with. When I was 12 all I had to deal with was frizzy hair, hairy legs and a pimple or two (boys were a definite NO NO at that young age).
Karen Walker's writing style is lyrical and hypnotic. The words she uses forces the reader to read slow, to take it all in. It's as if we become part of the slowing, but the book is also a quick read because it's a page turner. Coming-of-age stories aren't known to be page turners, and this one is absolutely lovely. The main plot point of the earth slowing down isn't the focus of this work. It's about the characters and what this crisis does to them and the people they interact with. What happens to communities in such a life changing situation. Do we thrive or do we survive? It makes the reader wonder what would I do in such a situation? What would be my priorities? Would I be a realist? Or would I keep hope alive? What would you do?
I'm not going to lie. This book made me cry. I fell hard for these characters. Julia is a wonderful, smart, insecure, awkward girl, navigating the perils of puberty. She's nothing special. She's just you and me going through life. Her parents are polar opposites to one another. Julia's grandfather is 86 and a bit of a conspiracy theorist, but his relationship with Julia is much bigger and more important than we realize. I loved Grandpa! In fact, I pretty much loved everything about this book. It is the best book of the year and quite possibly one of the best books I have ever read.
Don't let the title fool you into thinking this book is about new age psycho babble because it's not. If anything this book is rooted in the scientific, in the secular, in the here and now. The Age of Miracles is about life at this particular moment. Life is staring you in the face right now. Don't look away. Look up! Embrace it! Because you never know when it'll stop moving.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
ParaNorman is a sweet little gem of a movie and isn't just for the undead.
Norman can talk to ghosts which makes him a social pariah, even his family think he's a bit of a nut job. But what he doesn't know is that a witch's curse on his small New England town is about to come to light and he's the only one who can put it right.
ParaNorman is a beautifully crafted animated film. Visually this film is a stunner. It is slightly off centre, or abnormal (pardon the pun) with its cast of uniquely drawn characters. People aren't beautiful in this film. People are layered with big noses and crooked eyes and ill-shaped earlobes, but put that altogether and you get something that is just sublime to look at. The look of the film trumps the actual story. Not to say the story isn't well written. It is a fine film, but I do think it lacked a more concrete conflict. I never really believed that Norman or the town were in any real danger.
For those with kids I would say it's not for young children. I would venture to guess that 10 and up would enjoy the film, but a toddler might be scared. And it's definitely an entertaining film for adults.
When we finally do meet the witch (one of the loveliest animation sequences that I have ever seen) who was killed during the witch trials of the 18th century we get to know more about where she came from and why she is doing what she's doing, and it's quite touching. This film has a lot of heart and is a lot more sweet than I thought it would be. It touches upon a lot of themes. Themes kids can relate to like bullying, loneliness, and feeling out of place. But it doesn't do it in a heavy handed way.
If you haven't seen this film then you're missing out. It'll probably be out in time for Halloween and I would definitely recommend watching it on such a ghoulish night where the zombies, witches and ghosts come out to play!