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Life as We Knew It Paperback – May 1, 2008
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Veteran author Susan Beth Pfeffer, who penned the young adult classic The Year Without Michael over twenty years ago, makes a stunning comeback with this haunting book that documents one adolescent's journey from self-absorbed child to selfless young woman. Teen readers won't soon forget this intimate story of survival and its subtle message about the treasuring the things that matter most-family, friendship, and hope.--Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Miranda begins her diary entries with the usual teen business of school, friends and family with a little digression into figure skating fandom. The forecast collision between asteroid and moon seems like a fun event, as well as an excuse for homework assignments from her teachers, in other words, of interest but not particularly interesting. But the unexpected happens and the collision knocks the moon out of its normal orbit around earth and terrible things begin to happen. Life as Miranda knew it changes quickly and relentlessly from one of normality to a frightening spectre of violent death and terrible deprivation. As suddenly as this happens in parts of world where tsunamis, earthquakes and floods wipe out huge areas of land and people, the changes in Miranda's world occur more gradually but relentlessly. Miranda's world becomes more and more focused on the tragedy and the effects of the global climactic change, and her frame of reference as a teen in a world of school, friends, sports and the future, shrinks down to the day to day survival of herself and her family of four. Miranda struggles to maintain her identity, her physical existence and her hope in the face of frightening odds against her.
The novel is a dark microcosmic view of a small town family facing the worst that life can throw at them, but it never loses hope even in the face of hopelessness. Miranda muses at one point in the book that she might as well enjoy today no matter how bad it is, because tomorrow was going to be worse. And yet there are little joys, rays of hope, tantalizing moments of what passes for normal in the midst of an ever darkening prognosis for survival. Miranda remains true to who she is and her family shows the strength of their commitment to each other throughout this ordeal.
There are no fairy tale endings to this book, but it does end on a hopeful note and the reader is left with the conviction that better days may yet be ahead. There are moments of humor as well as despair, moments of anger as well as love and a compelling story line that makes it hard to put the book down. Miranda's fate becomes a personal issue, we want to know what happens to her and her family and we care.
This is the author's best book to date, sure to be a classroom classic and popular with teens as well as an engrossing read for adults. Don't miss this one!
The reviews posted so far on Amazon are sufficient in summarizing the plot and commenting on the quality of the writing. It's obvious that a few issues stand out to many readers, and that those of us who have read this book are interested in what others think about them, so for that reason I'll offer my own opinions.
First, I'm not a scientist, and I can't comment on the feasibility of the asteroid/moon event. To me, it's just a device to set up the story - the author needed a worldwide cataclysm, and invented a cosmic event. If your fiction choices have to line up with hard science and you won't be able to get past this scenario, you probably shouldn't try reading this book.
Yes, I thought the jabs at the President, Fox News, etc., were unnecessary to the story, and only served to alienate part of the audience. Aside from that, I found Miranda's Mom to be a very interesting character. I cheered for her when she took quick, decisive action in buying supplies (even thinking of cat food, tampons, and baby clothes) and growing food. Many readers have accused her of cruelty or inconsistency; but I think her struggles were entirely realistic. She had to make the choice to provide for her family; to her, this meant shutting off her compassion for the outside world - and she's clearly tormented by it. But she still is able to open her heart to enfold her ex-husband and his new wife and unborn child, as well as an elderly family friend; and she does everything she can to provide some sense of normalcy for her family (like sending Johnny to baseball camp).
The biggest turn-off to many readers seems to be Ms. Pfeffer's evident anti-Christian bias, and I agree that it's discouraging to see how many recent teen novels portray people of faith as only brazen hypocrites or deluded fanatics. I understand that in the sequel, she presents the main characters as devout believers who hold to their faith while facing doubts and asking honest questions - but would it have been so difficult to show some balance, instead of reaching for two extremes? The only examples of religious belief the author could show us in "Life As We Knew It" are bit characters who naively hope for God's protection as the world falls apart around them, and poor Megan, who belongs to a sect whose members point fingers of judgment at others and punish themselves even more severely. When disaster strikes in this country, the local churches are the first to provide food, clothing, shelter, and comfort. For every highly publicized group placing blame, there are a dozen organizations and countless volunteers helping to save lives and reclaim what was lost. For all its realism in other areas, it's surprising that you can't find a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, medical clinic, or school sponsored by churches in Miranda's town. They all seem to be too busy berating people and starving themselves to death.
Though the armed gangs were mentioned briefly, they did not seem to be much of a threat. With the shortages of food and other supplies, I think there would have been constant danger from raiders invading private homes. Maybe this was conveniently avoided, since it would have led to the question of the necessity of having a gun to protect one's home and family.
Regardless of its weaknesses, this novel will make you think, and your mind will place you in Miranda's blighted world for quite some time to come as you consider how you and your family would survive there.