My birthday’s next week. If I’m still alive, I hope Mom will be, too.
–Page 325, Harcourt 2006
Sixteen-year-old Miranda has bigger concerns than a minor astronomical event (aka a large meteor crashing into the Moon). She’s concerned about finding a date for prom, annoyed with her born-again friend, Megan, and her boy crazy friend, Sammy, and excited when her father asks her to be the godmother of his new baby. However, when the meteor knocks the Moon out of orbit, causing massive destruction on Earth, Miranda begins to realize that the Moon played a vital role in preserving life as she knew it.
As massive tsunamis and volcanoes devastate the coasts, Miranda’s quick-thinking mother brings the family (Miranda, her two brothers, and neighbor Mrs. Nesbitt) on a frantic grocery run to stock up on food, water and medicine. Her mother’s foresight proves pivotal, as little by little the conveniences of Miranda’s old life slip away. Electricity goes down. Water and food become scarce.
Without phone, television, Internet or radio, Miranda and her family must rely on each other to stay alive. This taut tale of survival unravels through Miranda’s diary entries. Although she relays most of the death and violence secondhand, the story packs enough suspense to grab even the most reluctant reader. Also, the immediacy and ease of Pfeffer’s prose make the story highly believable.
The story challenges readers to appreciate everything they have, especially family. It also elicits some strange reactions from readers. Case in point: Even though I have never been one to stockpile food, after reading this book, I raced out to the store and bought a 24-pack of bottled water and an armful of canned vegetables. I also made a plan to buy a few cans of food every week to add to my stockpile…just in case. And I know I’m not the only one to react in this way.
By the way, check out Susan Beth Pfeffer’s blog for an excerpt from The Dead and the Gone (a story about what happened in New York during the same time period as Life as We Knew It). She also provides info on a possible third book, Since the End of the Time Before.
A note on the audiobook: Narrator Emily Bauer does a great job of showing Miranda’s transition from a carefree high schooler to a young woman struggling to survive. I would definitely recommend this book on CD.