Every so often a book will get under my skin and alter the way I think. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is still swimming around in my head. The main character is a teenage girl named Miranda. The world witnesses a huge event, a meteor is heading straight for the moon. Families stand outside with telescopes to watch the impact. But not even the scientists predict what will happen next. The meteor hits with such an impact the moon is knocked off kilter, pushing it closer to earth. This creates a change of catastrophic events with tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and winter in August.
The story is told through Miranda’s diary entries as they try to survive. They live in rural Pennsylvania, so while the tsunamis cannot reach them and there are not any volcanoes nearby, the ash covers the sky, blocking the sun. They have little information about what is happening outside their small town. They know large parts of the county have been wiped out. Her family is lucky though. Her mother has the foresight to purchase as much canned food, medical supplies and batteries as possible. They also have a wood burning stove. Miranda tells her story as they slowly starve; making each can last as long as possible.
Let me just say, as I was reading this book, my power went out and the house became a little chilly. So many aspects of the book stick with me. Although the chance of a meteor hitting the moon that hard is remote, it is not outside the realm of possibility. Once disaster hit, all the technology became irrelevant. They had to survive primitively.
I discussed this book with the mother/daughter book group at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. The mothers and I all shared the same fears about the economy. The girls enjoyed the story, but the book made us mothers very nervous. When someone losses their job and the source of food and heating fuel become in jeopardy it is very terrifying indeed. You take on the same mindset, how can we make what we have stretch?
This book also reminded me of the power outage in 2003, when the all the cities in our region went without power. I remember the fear as I first heard it was not just Cleveland. Was it a terrorist attack? I am sure this is the same feeling of fear and uncertainly as Miranda and her family tried to figure out what was happening with the rest of the world. When we lost water during that outage it was truly terrifying. I remember going to the store to pick up a few things and watching the panic as people filled carts with bottled water.
This book made me want to take a trip to the wholesale club and stock up on canned goods and water. It may not be such a bad idea.
Susan Beth Pfeffer has also written The Dead And The Gone, which takes place in New York City as the tsunamis hit. I will read this one too, as soon as I can get up the courage. She is also writing a third book in the trilogy which continues the Miranda storyline called The World We Live In.