Life As We Knew It
by Pfeffer, Susan Beth






Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family's struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.





SUSAN BETH PFEFFER is the author of many books for teens, including the bestselling novel The Year Without Michael. Among her other books are the popular Portraits of Little Women series and the award-winning Kid Power. She lives in Middletown, New York.





/*Starred Review*/ A meteor is going to hit the moon, and 16-year-old Miranda, like the rest of her family and neighbors in rural Pennsylvania, intends to watch it from the comfort of a lawn chair in her yard. But the event is not the benign impact predicted. The moon is knocked closer to Earth, setting off a chain of horrific occurrences: tsunamis, earthquakes, and, later, volcanic eruptions that disrupt life across the planet. Written in the form of Miranda's diary, this disquieting and involving story depicts one family's struggle to survive in a world where food, warmth, and well-being disappear in the blink of an eye. As life goes from bad to worse, Miranda struggles to find a way to survive both mentally and physically, discovering strength in her family members and herself. This novel will inevitably be compared to Meg Rosoff's Printz Award Book, How I Live Now (2004). Pfeffer doesn't write with Rosoff's startling eloquence, and her setup is not as smooth (Why don't scientists predict the possibility of this outcome?). But Miranda and her family are much more familiar than Rosoff's characters, and readers will respond to the authenticity and immediacy of their plight. Each page is filled with events both wearying and terrifying and infused with honest emotions. Pfeffer brings cataclysmic tragedy very close. ((Reviewed September 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews





Sixteen-year-old Miranda begins a daily ten-month diary documenting the survival ordeal her rural Pennsylvania family endures when a large meteor's collision with the moon brings on destruction of the modern world and all its technological conveniences. The change in the moon's gravitational pull begins to cause natural havoc around the globe in the form of catastrophic tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and other weather-related disasters. Miranda's American teen view gradually alters as personal security, physical strength and health become priorities. Pfeffer paints a gruesome and often depressing drama as conditions become increasingly difficult and dangerous with the dwindling of public and private services. Miranda's daily litany of cutting firewood, rationing canned meals, short tempers flaring in a one-room confinement is offset by lots of heart-to-heart talks about life and its true significance with her mother, older brother and religiously devout best friend. Death is a constant threat, and Pfeffer instills despair right to the end but is cognizant to provide a ray of hope with a promising conclusion. Plausible science fiction with a frighteningly realistic reminder of recent tragedies here and abroad. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





one

May 7
   Lisa is pregnant.
   Dad called around 11 o'clock to let us know. Only Mom had already taken Jonny to his baseball practice and of course Matt isn't home from college yet, so I was alone to get the big news.
   "The baby is due in December," Dad crowed, like he was the first guy in the history of the world with a younger second wife about to have a baby. "Isn't that great! You're going to have a little brother or sister. Of course it's too soon to tell what it's going to be, but as soon as we know, we'll tell you. I wouldn't mind another daughter myself. The first one I had turned out so wonderfully. How'd you like a baby sister?"
   I had no idea. "When did you find out?" I asked.
   "Yesterday afternoon," Dad said. "I would have called you right away but, well, we celebrated. You can understand that, can't you, honey? A little private time for Lisa and me before letting the world know."
   "Of course, Daddy," I said. "Has Lisa told her family?"
   "First thing this morning," he replied. "Her parents are thrilled. Their first grandchild. They're coming for a couple of weeks in July, before you and Jonny visit."
   "Are you going to call Matt and tell him?" I asked. "Or do you want me to?"
   "Oh no, I'll call," Dad said. "He's busy studying for his finals. He'll be glad for the interruption."
   "It's great news, Dad," I said, because I knew I was supposed to. "Be sure to tell Lisa how happy I am for her. And you, too. For both of you."
   "You tell her yourself," Dad said. "Here she is."
   Dad muffled the phone for a second so he could whisper something to Lisa and then she took the phone. "Miranda," she said. "Isn't it exciting!"
   "Very," I said. "It's wonderful news. I'm really happy for you and Dad."
   "I was thinking," she said. "Well, I know it's way too soon and I haven't even discussed this with your father yet, but would you like to be the baby's godmother? You don't have to answer right away, but do think about it, all right?"
   That's the problem I have with Lisa. Whenever I want to get mad at her, or just irritated because she really can be immensely irritating, she goes and does something nice. And then I can understand why Daddy married her.
   "Of course I'll think about it," I said. "You and Daddy think about it also."
   "We don't have to give it any more thought," she said. "You should see the glow on your father's face. I don't think he could be any happier."
   "I couldn't," Dad said, and I could tell from his laughter that he'd grabbed the phone away from Lisa. "Miranda, please say yes. It would mean so much to us for you to be the baby's godmother."
   So I said yes. I couldn't exactly say no.
   After that we chatted for a while. I told Dad about my last swim meet and how I was doing in school. Mom still hadn't come back by the time I finally got off the phone, so I went online to see what's new with figure skating. The hot topic at Brandon Erlich's fan site is how good his chances are to win Olympic gold. Most people think not very, but a lot of us think he has a real shot at medaling and ice is slippery and you never know.
   I think I'd like to take skating lessons again. I've missed it the past couple of years and besides, it'll give me a chance to pick up news about Brandon. He isn't being coached by Mrs. Daley anymore, but I bet she still hears stuff. And maybe Brandon's mother would show up at the rink.
   When Mom got in, I had to tell her about Lisa. She just said that was nice and that she knew the two of them wanted children. She and Dad have worked really hard on making it a "good divorce." Matt says if they'd worked half as hard on their marriage, they'd still be married. I didn't tell her about how I'm going to be the godmother (assuming Lisa doesn't change her mind, which she's more than capable of doing). I feel kind of bad that I'm going to be the godmother but no one said anything about Matt or Jonny being godfathers. Of course Lisa and Matt don't get along very well, and maybe 13 is too young to be a godfather.
   I hope Lisa changes her mind and I won't have to deal with it.

May 8
   Not the greatest Mother's Day ever.
   I'd told Mom a while ago that I'd make dinner and she decided to invite Mrs. Nesbitt. I can't say I was surprised, but I figured if Mom was having Mrs. Nesbitt over I could ask Megan and her mom, too. Only when Jonny found out it was going to be me and Mom and Mrs. Nesbitt and Megan and Mrs. Wayne, he said that was too many females in one room for him and he was going to have dinner at Tim's instead.
   Mom always thinks it's a good idea for Jonny to spend time with Tim and his family because there are three boys and Tim's father is around a lot. She said if it was okay with Tim's folks it was okay with her.
   I called Megan and told her to bring her history notes with her and we'd study for the test together, and she agreed.
   Which is why I'm so mad at her. If she hadn't said yes, it would be one thing. But she did and I made enough meatloaf for five and salad and then right before I started setting the table, Megan called and said she had decided to stay on at her church and do something with the youth group. She'd gotten the dates mixed up. And her mother didn't feel like coming without her, so it was going to be two less for Sunday dinner and she hoped I didn't mind.
   Well, I do mind. I mind because I'd been looking forward to all of us having dinner together and to studying with Megan. I also figured Mrs. Nesbitt and Mrs. Wayne would be good people for Mom to talk to about Lisa's baby. Mom may not be best friends with Mrs. Wayne, but she's funny and she would have gotten Mom laughing.
   Megan is spending so much time at her church. She goes to services every Sunday and she never used to and she does stuff with the youth group at least twice a week and sometimes more and for all her talking about how she's found God, I think all she's found is Reverend Marshall. She talks about him like he's a movie star. I even told her that once and she said that's how I talk about Brandon, like it was the same thing, which it isn't at all. Lots of people think Brandon is the best skater in the U.S. right now and besides it isn't like I talk about him all the time and act like he's my salvation.
   Dinner was okay except I overcooked the meatloaf so it was a little dry. But Mrs. Nesbitt's never been shy with the ketchup bottle. After a while I left her and Mom alone and I guess they talked about Lisa and the baby. I wish it was summer already. I can't wait to get my driver's license.
   I also wish I was through studying for my history exam. BORING!
   But I'd better get back to it. Bad grades, no license. The Rules According to Mom.

Copyright © 2006 by Susan Beth Pfeffer






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