Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Life As We Knew It (booktalk)

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
4Q 4P J/S

What made this book even creepier for me is that scientists right now are trying to figure out how to deal with an asteroid that may hit the Earth in 2038. I suspect that after you read this book, you’ll never be able to look at a full moon again without shivering just a little bit.

Miranda’s journal begins like any typical teenage girl’s. She writes about her grades, friends, fights with her mother, her new step-sibling-to-be, and her crush on a local Olympic-caliber skater. And she writes about the fuss all her teachers are making about the asteroid that’s supposed to hit the moon. They’re all excited because it’s supposed to be big enough to see with the naked eye, but not so big that anyone is particularly worried. They should have been. The asteroid is not only bigger than expected, it hits with much more force with expected. It knocks the moon out of orbit, much closer to Earth.

Is that really significant? You bet it is. It’s catastrophic. The first noticeable effect of the collision is the tsunamis that hit both coasts, causing massive flooding. Tidal waves twenty feet and higher hit as far inland as New York City. The Statue of Liberty is washed out to sea. Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, the barrier islands off the Carolinas, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Alaska…all gone. Similar devastation is happening all over the world. Nobody knows how bad it’s going to get, but Miranda's mother suspects it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better, if it gets better. The family and an elderly neighbor head to the stores and fill cart after cart with canned and boxed foods, cat food, kitty litter, toilet paper, and anything and everything they think they could possibly use. They have no way of knowing how long the situation will last or how bad it will get, so everything has to be rationed, including their water and heating oil.

How bad does it get? Communication networks break down. It's next to impossible to make or receive phone calls. Mail is disrupted. Electricity is available only an hour or two a day. Soon, it's on for only minutes a day, and then not at all. With no electricity, no mail, no phone, no television, and no internet, there's no way to get any news at all. They are completely isolated. And the environmental devastation continues. After the tidal waves come the earthquakes. Then volcanoes begin to erupt, even ones that were dormant or far underground. So much ash is thrown into the air that the sun is completely blocked. The first hard frost comes in August. By September, it's not unusual for the temperature during the day to reach a high of 23 degrees. By October, it's below zero. There’s no heat and very little food. To make a bad situation worse, people are getting sick, and there are few doctors and even less medicine.

In her journal, Miranda wonders how they can possibly survive. The situation is desperate. If only one person in her family can survive, who should it be? It’s time to choose. She longs for life as she knew it, but she has to deal with life as it is, for as long as she possibly can. How long will that be?

1 comment:

  1. This book was amazing, I literally didn't put it down! It really made me think about life. This book was truly one of the best I have read recently, and trust me, that is saying something!


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