Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Life as we knew it

Life as we knew it

Susan Beth Pfeffer
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Harcourt, 2006   ISBN: 978-0152058265

Like so many of us, Miranda sees the moon as a benign presence in the night sky, a friend on summer campfire evenings. She therefore thinks all the current hype about the moon is a little over the top. Is it really that big a deal that yet another asteroid is going to crash into the moon? After all it has happened many times before. Still, Miranda joins her mother and her two brothers out on the street on the night when the great event is due to happen. She watches as the asteroid strikes the moon and then she watches as the moon suddenly seems to get bigger in front of her face.

It would appear that the asteroid was so big that it bumped the moon out of its usual orbit. Therefore the moon is indeed closer to the earth. This dramatic change has unforeseen consequences. The first thing to happen is the change in the tides. Indeed the tides become so high that they cause tsunamis. Towns and cities on the coastlines are destroyed and millions of people are killed. Because of the waves offshore oil rigs are soon out of commission. The first sign the something is seriously wrong is the sudden increase in the price of gasoline. Then Miranda’s mother takes the whole family to the grocery store so they can buy as much food and supplies as they can. Surely, Miranda thinks, they are not really going to need all these cans of veggies and bags of rice?

Then the power starts to fail. Because food is scare and because the power cannot be relied on, schools are closed. Miranda cannot help feeling furious about what is happening to her world. She hates having to wash their clothes by hand. She hates the fact that she cannot eat three meals a day. Still, it can’t get worse then it is now.

Unfortunately for Miranda and for everyone else in the world, things get a lot worse.

In this sometimes harrowing and often very moving novel a young girl is forced to learn some very painful lessons in a very short period of time. She is surrounded by loss and she grieves for her old life – for the life when she was able to be normal active teenage girl who wanted to be invited to the prom. Now she has to think about how she and her family are going to survive. The old rules disappear, one at a time, as conditions get worse and worse. Though so much is taken from her, she also gets some unexpected gifts. Miranda learns how brave and resilient she can be. She also learns to love more “deeply” than she ever thought was possible.

Written in the form of a diary, Miranda’s voice comes through with great clarity and poignancy and readers will be left with an overwhelming hope that this special girl will survive to help build a new world.

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