Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

life as we knew it

Life As We Knew It
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2006
ISBN: 9780739337899
FORMAT: Audio Book
AGES: Young Adult
4 Stars

Miranda has a lot to worry about. Going to school, the complexity of childhood friendships changing during high school, and the excitement of being asked to be a god-mother to her future step brother or sister. Then everything changes. An asteroid hits the moon and changes the orbit…which in turn changes the earth. With the moon closer the tides and the weather patterns are totally messed up. Plus the gravity of the moon is pulling magma up through volcanoes (even the super-volcanoes and dormant volcanoes erupt) sending ash into the air for months at a time. With so much natural disasters, everything in a worse-case-scenario goes wrong. Miranda and her mother and brothers are much more prepared than most people, so they don’t die in the first or second wave of deaths…but they are in trouble. Their canned food supply won’t last forever and they don’t know what they will do when it does.

This is a great disaster story in that the unthinkable happens. Not murder or terrorist attacks, but the natural disasters that are so unlikely that nobody is prepared enough for them. This book would be a great discussion starter for talking about what individuals would do if different natural disasters happened. I also liked how this was all in Miranda’s point of view as if we were reading her diary. However, I was often frustrated with the mother character. At some points she was upset that Miranda didn’t understand that “family comes first” (when Miranda opted to go and tell her friend about the food that was being distributed). But then a little bit later when Matt talked about going to the post office to volunteer the mom was upset that Johnny and Miranda were not as willing to help the community by volunteering. I guess when a huge natural disaster (that lasts for months or years at a time) comes along I shouldn’t be surprised if people’s moods change. And since the volunteering had nothing to do with getting (or not) extra food, I could see how perhaps it seemed different in the mother’s eyes. But more often than not I was just frustrated with Miranda every time her mother drove her nuts. Which was probably one of the biggest signs that this was a pretty good reading/recording. I was right there with the family. And was overjoyed when I realized that the family would be saved (even though it was quite sudden and it came at the perfect time).

Book Discussion Questions:
What would you do if a major natural disaster happened? Would you be prepared?
If you knew that disaster was coming (or it just happened) what would you do to prepare?
What thing(s) did Miranda’s family do to survive? What would you have done?
At one point Miranda’s mom got upset that Miranda wanted to go and tell her friend about the elementary school giving out food. Why was her mom so upset? Did her mom have a right to be upset? Did Miranda do the right thing?

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