Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The dead and the gone

The dead and the gone

Susan Beth Pfeffer
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Harcourt, 2008   ISBN: 0152063110

Alex is so busy thinking about colleges, class presidents and other everyday things that he, at first, fails to notice what is happening in the bigger world. It is only when rioting, looting, and other very noticeable events start to take place that he realizes that something is very wrong. He learns that the moon was hit by an asteroid and because it is now closer to the Earth, natural disasters of all kinds are happening all over the world. Long Island and the coast have been flooded by tides, thousands are dead or missing, power and communication systems are sketchy at best, and no one knows when things will "get back to normal."

Alex becomes really worried when he does not hear from his mother. She went to work on the day when things began to go wrong and Alex and his two younger sisters have not heard from her since. To make things worse Alex's father is in Puerto Rico and the news they have been hearing about the island is not good. Apparently huge tidal waves devastated the coast and there is a good chance that Alex's father will not be coming home.

With each passing day Alex, Briana and Julie become more worried about their future. The family's food supplies begin to run low and the children become dependent on the meals that they get at school and on food handouts that the local church offers once a week. It becomes clear that things are not going to get back to normal anytime soon. In fact it may take years for the world's natural rhythms to stabilize. Earthquakes are happening in places where they never occurred before. Once dormant volcanoes are erupting, and volcanic ash is filling the skies.

When people start dying like flies, Alex begins to think about his options. It is clear that New York is dying and that he is going to have to get Briana and Julie to some place safe where there is food and health care. But how is he going to pull this off?

In this extraordinary companion to the highly acclaimed "Life as we knew it" Susan Beth Pfeffer explores the inner turmoil that a young man's experiences as he is suddenly thrust into the role of  "head of the family." Alex is only seventeen and yet he is now having to make life or death decisions for himself and his sisters. He is a boy who likes rules and structure and now he is living in a world filled with chaos.

This superbly crafted book is, without a doubt, very disturbing and yet at the same it has a powerful message of hope.