Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer
Everyone was expecting the meteor that hit the moon, but as soon as it happened it was obvious something was wrong. Slightly closer and off-kilter, the consequences were immediate. First it was the tides wiping out the coasts, then earthquakes and tornadoes. Electricity and gas became scarce, then the heating oil ran out. Food was hoarded, wells ran dry. Then volcanoes all over the world became active, blocking out the sun and bringing an early frost. Slowly every bit of normalcy faded away. Hungry, unclean and sick, the best anyone can hope for is to make it through the long winter.
16-year-old Miranda keeps a diary of her experiences and her growing desperation. Very much in the vein of Anne Frank, this story is relatable because food and gas shortages are a reality in many parts of the world (so is genocide, but most American teens probably aren’t personally worried for their safety because of it). I don’t know enough about the science to say how well researched the book is or how plausable its chain of events, but I have seen it criticized for this. Not substantially enough to understand why, though. Miranda is strong, but not too strong, and she’s enough of a blank to project yourself onto her circumstances. Almost everyone dies, but the book is still hopeful without losing its pragmatism. If its not realistic, it feels like it is. Pfeffer’s few misplaced shots at fundamentalism and George Bush seem tacked on and inessential, as sympathetic as I might be to the message.