Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.
(Story synopsis from goodreads.com)
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer was the June book for the Pi Phi book club. I would definitely not say that this is an uplifting book. In fact, as I was reading it and as the situations for Miranda and her family continued to get worse, I would become so involved with the story that I started to believe that I was suffering the same fate as Miranda. This of course just goes to show you that even though Susan Beth Pfeffer was writing from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old, there are many things that all readers can relate to.
I would say though that the best audience for this novel would be a female one. I say this simply because of the format (which is a diary/journal) and the musings of a sixteen-year-old girl. She talks about her crushes and the relationships with her best friends and how these change and the world continues to change around them. There were some of the entries that seemed to juvenile for me, but I know that could be something that my students would relate to.
Even though this book was published in 2006, I think that the subject matter is especially current today with all of the discussion of the “end of the world.” I find it an interesting read after all of the discussion that was had last year with the ending of the Mayan calendar and many people believing that with the end of their calendar meant the end of the world. What this book does is present another option as to how the Earth might come to an end and the fact that the entire world won’t simply wake-up dead one day, but instead that there will be some enormous shift in the Earth’s environment.
This novel also presents to the readers how dependent we have become on modern conveniences: cell phones, internet, fast food, grocery stores, cars and public transportation, electricity, and so on… It is interesting to see how families, especially Miranda’s, adapts to no longer having these things available to them all of the time.
I think that this book would be a great one to use for book clubs and also in the classroom with junior high or high school students to have a great discussion with them about what they would do in the same situation. I think this would also be an interesting discussion to have with adults to see if they would handle the situation in the same way as Miranda’s mother or if there would be other decisions that they would make.
When I first began reading this book, I did not realize that it was a part of a series called “The Last Survivors.” Life as We Knew It is the first in the series and is then followed by The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In and then The Shade of the Moon. I would be interested to see what Susan Beth Pfeffer does with the rest of the story and throughout the series.