Monday, January 22, 2007

Life As We Knew It

Pffefer, Susan Beth. 2006. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152058265 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

When an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it off its orbit, life for sixteen-year-old Miranda is turned upside down. Worldwide catastrophes ensue: earthquakes, tsunamis, erupting volcanoes, and drastic weather changes. Miranda and her family survive the tsunamis because they live in Pennsylvania away from the coastlines, but survival becomes increasingly more difficult as environmental conditions worsen. Priorities shift when Miranda must contend with food rationing, living with her family in one room, and doing without heat, electricity, computers, telephones, and even school. Hunger and cold are a constant threat. Because communication with the outside world is difficult, Miranda loses daily contact with her friends but through occasional visits learns of their personal struggles and internal coping mechanisms. Miranda suffers many privations, but through it all, her greatest struggle is holding on to hope in a seemingly hopeless world.

Told in the form of Miranda’s diary, this absorbing and thought-provoking novel will take the reader on a ten-month journey of despair sprinkled with small victories and moments of honest introspection. Miranda’s teenage voice and perspective are authentic. Readers will be inspired by the courage of the characters and the strength of familial bonds. Pfeffer has written a true page-turner that offers a glimmer of hope for a better life in its final pages.

Invite readers to put themselves in Miranda’s shoes after the asteroid hit. Encourage them to write about the one thing they would miss the most about their former lives.

Other books about young people surviving disasters:
Armstrong, Jennifer and Nancy Butcher. THE KINDLING. ISBN 0060294115
Weaver, Will. MEMORY BOY. ISBN 006440854X

By S. Zulema Silva Bewley

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