|LIFE AS WE KNEW IT|
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Harcourt Children's Books
I can't believe I waited so long to read this one. Though Miranda's personality is a bit of a mystery, this is still a great book. Unlike most of what I read, it's very much plot-driven and it doesn't matter so much who Miranda and her family are as much as how they get through. The reactions to the earth's sudden emergency are realistic and, thank goodness, smart. Miranda's mother immediately fills up the car with gas, pulls her children out of school, and concentrates on getting as much food and other necessities as possible. Better safe than sorry.
At first, Miranda thinks her mother's crazy; there's no way they'll need this much food, or long underwear, or so much medicine. But her disbelief quickly changes as instead of getting better, the planet gets worse. Soon she's cut off from all of her friends, everyone she used to know is a stranger while her world is narrowed to include only her mother, two brothers, and the elderly neighbor they consider part of their family. Everyone is deciding what matters most and how to best survive, and sometimes the choices of others put Miranda at odds with them. There's a religious subplot that I can only explain as strange, but with one exception I was surprised by the realistic actions of these characters. This is very much a story of family and survival in the hardest of times, and there's little to talk about because everything was done so well. It's definitely a disturbing and scary little book, but not enough to stop me from recommending it. The characters are pushed to their limits and while it's unsettling, there's a certain comfort in the way they handle things and the reflection of ourselves in them. There's a theme of the importance and strength of family running through this book that gives it heart.