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Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer

2010/03/29

Miranda is an ordinary sixteen year old girl living in a small town in Pennsylvania with her mother and younger brother when it all begins. Her entire town turns out to see what is supposed to be a simple night time display – a small asteroid crashing into the moon. Instead, the collision sends the moon off its normal orbital course, which wreaks havoc on the earth’s climate, and consequently, “life as we knew it.” Miranda’s mother immediately understands the implications of what is happening, and to Miranda’s shock and confusion, immediately begins to stock up on canned foods, dry goods, and other necessities. As the days progress, Miranda begins to realize just how difficult things are, and are becoming. School becomes less and less structured; teachers and students leave or are stricken by illness, and the cafeteria runs out of food.

I liked the concept of this novel, and thought it did an excellent job in portraying how the American public might react to a futuristic catastrophe, but oddly enough, I did not find Miranda to be a very likable character. I much rather sympathize with her mother, who is doing all the planning and foresight and stockpiling. Despite picking up on what is happening and the consequences of each natural disaster, Miranda seems to be purposely oblivious to much of what is going on, and reacts selfishly whenever her mother or older brother take steps to preserve what remains of the family’s livelihood. Overall, though, Miranda has a good relationship with her family, and her mother does the best she can to provide structure and healthy boundaries for all of her children in this tumultuous situation, setting rules, goals, and encouraging them to continue their studies.

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