Chapter 17 begins with a bad start. Helen (Julia's mother) crashed into a man while driving a car. She fainted while on the wheel which led to the crash. The cause of the faint was an unknown disease at the time. Things get worst as Julia's last friend, Gabby, get send away. Animals like whales started to appear in beaches due to the slowing. The relationship between Seth and Julia is improving. Julia found her grandfather, Gene, packing and she starts to worry.
As we get deeper in "The Age of Miracles" by Karen Walker, one of the themes that emerged is some truth are best not told. One of the most impactful lies that was told was between Joel and Helen. Helen had a car accident and killed a man but she is unaware of that. Joel is a doctor and when he got the news that the man died on impact, he then proceeded to tell Helen that the stranger was released from the hospital. Julia, knowing that is was a lie, as Helen told her "You know the man from the accident?...If found out today that he survived". Julia didn't confront Helen to tell her the truth because it improved Helen's mental state which wasn't good due to the slowing.
The slowing is causing a unknown disease which Helen has. The book states "With the help of an MRI, the doctors had searched her brain for hidden damage and found none. But that machine could not, of course, search her mind". From there, we can infer that the illness is affecting people mentally. An example of this could be Helen's random desire to go back into acting after working in the house for years. Another example could be how there wasn't any kind of connection between Seth and Julia but then randomly one day, Seth ask Julia to follow him.
So far in the book, there are no signs of feminism, racism, or masculism. Instead there are a lot of cultural discrimination. The people that are following the 24 hour clock are attacking people that are following the "real time". They are getting targeted for their way of life that is different from everyone else. People would do things like cutting the power to the Real-Timers house or knocking down trees in their front lawn in hopes of driving them out.