If you're interested in stories where the apocalyptic event actually occurs, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is an excellent choice. In this intriguing story, Julia, the eleven-year-old narrator, experiences the slow decline of civilization as the Earth begins to slow its spin. From dying birds to mysterious sicknesses, the impact of the ever-increasing period between night and day continues to mystify and terrify Julia and her family. Meanwhile, she finds herself in her own tumultuous and often lonely adventure of early adolescence, a time made even sharper and more isolated by the changes occurring around her. She writes from a later perspective, looking back on those early events with bewilderment and nostalgia. She states the paradoxical nature of the peculiar occurrence: "We had rockets and satellites and nanotechnology. We had robot arms and robot hands , robots for roving the surface of Mars...We could make a dead man's heart pump blood through the body of a stranger. We were making great strides in the realms of love and sadness--we had drugs to spur desire, drugs for melting pain. We performed all sorts of miracles... And yet, the unknown still outweighed the known" (Walker 266). Julia struggles to find her way in an ever-changing world in which she is often painfully alone. The future remains frighteningly uncertain, and yet she finds that she is able to continuously move forward and face that future.
Translation for teen readers and the classroom:
This novel would address a variety of issues that could fit well in the classroom. It's a painfully conscious testimony to the struggles that children face as they become teenagers--struggles to fit in with others, to protect themselves from pain, to understand their parents and the adult world. It raises issues about loyalty, friendship, bullying, and alienation. Although it is an intriguing and creative work of fiction, it would not be an easy read for reluctant readers. On the other hand, it would appeal to students interested in apocalyptic events that, while intense, are not particularly violent or dramatic. It speaks particularly well to the experience of students on the fringe of social groups who struggle to blend into the larger social scene. It is a tender account of the human experience of adolescence and the desire to be remembered and to endure.
K. Ashley Dickson-Ellison is a former high school English teacher (who is now an instructional technology teacher) interested in exploring the integration of trending young adult literature into the English classroom experience. Ashley is also a member of the podcast Unabridged; check out the podcast site below.
Please note: All ideas and opinions are my own and do not represent my current or past employers.
© K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All thoughts and ideas are the author's and do not represent any employer.