Bleak And Reviting Conclusion in Susan Beth Pfeffer’s This World We Live In

This World We Live In picks up where Life As We Knew It left off.  Characters, Alex and Julie from The Dead And The Gone are also main characters in this 3rd book.  It is just as bleak and terrifying as the first book.  I loved it!  Miranda’s family is still on the brink of starvation, even though they recently began receiving government food.  Miranda’s father returns with his wife, and new baby boy.  He brings a group of survivors with him, including Alex and Julie.  I’ll admit, I did not read the 2nd book, The Dead And The Gone, so there were moments I missed out on when they referred to Alex’s troubled past.  The new arrivals bring a new set of problems, such as how to make the food stretch, although they are happy for extra help and human contact.  Alex and Miranda form a bond, kind of feeling like the last boy and girl in the world. They go scavenging in the abandoned houses together.  Alex has the idea to go out into the country and search those homes.  Inside one, they find a gruesome scene where a man died and his dog ate most of him.  But he was protecting a treasure trove of canned food and a van with gas left in the tank.  This gives them hope.  But in the weeks ahead, Alex must make some tough decisions about his sister’s future.  More natural disasters hit, causing the group to reevaluate what is safe.  Brilliant!  I really wish there would be more books.  I really want to know what happens next.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

How has Miranda grown and changed since Life As We Knew It?

Discuss Miranda and Alex’s looting.

Miranda feels like the last girl and on earth and Alex is the last boy.  Should they be together?

Alex talks about things that are worse than death.  How do you feel about the plan he has for his sister, Julie?  Discuss what Miranda ultimately had to do.

Talk about Miranda’s relationship with her dad.  Should she have gone with him the first time?

What would you do?  Would you want to leave and see what else is out there or stay where you think is safe?

What do you think will happen next?  What do you think the safe cities will be like?

Dear John Green & David Levithan, Thank You For Creating Reading Bliss!

Two of my favorite writers came together to create reading bliss for me! Thank you both! John Green and David Levithan collaborated on Will Grayson, Will Grayson. It is the story written alternately in each chapter about two teenage boys of the same name. One teen has a gay best friend, the other is gay himself. David is a genius at conveying life for a gay teen. His portrayals are very honest. They give gay teens someone to relate too and for the rest of us, a glimpse into what life is like for them.
John Green begins the book by talking about Will and his best friend, Tiny Cooper. He describes him as “the world’s largest person who is really, really gay and the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.” John’s great gift is creating characters that are wonderfully developed and funny. He created a character that is so beautiful, I sincerely missed him when the book was over. Tiny is writing a musical about his life, called “Tiny Dancer.” Yes, there are plenty of references to the great Elton John song. The songs are just hilarious!  My favorite lines are in the song where Tiny comes out to Will. 
“But I’m a football player.  Dude, you couldn’t be gayer.  I thought my straight-acting deserved a Tony.  But, Tiny, you own a thousand My Little Ponies.”
This musical is also about Will Grayson, much to his humiliation. At the same time another Will Grayson has a growing love with Issac, a boy he is chatting with, but is not what he appears to be.
This book is all about relationships and how we relate to each other. There are too many important relationships in the book to list here. But more importantly how we choose those we want in our lives and how we appreciate each other.  Did I cry at the end?  You bet!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:
In several of David Levithan’s books. The main character, who is often a gay teenage boy, has straight guy friends. It is never a big deal. What do you think of that?
Talk about Tiny’s relationship with both Will Graysons?
Should Will forgive Maura? Why do you think she would do that?

What do you think the point of “Tiny Dancer” is?

If you could write a musical about your life, what would be the title?

Would you want to be friends with Tiny Cooper, or either of the Will Graysons?

Will Grayson stands up for Tiny by writing a letter. Would you go out on a limb like that for a friend?

Tiny Cooper talks about falling. What does that mean to you?

Will’s mom says “I don’t want you to be a cheater . Sometimes it’s okay to cheat on things — but don’t ever cheat on people. Because once you start, it’s very hard to stop. You find out how easy it is to do.” Discuss.

Will said this about Maura, “ Then I realized that missing her or not missing her isn’t the point. The point is I am still carrying around what happened as much as she is. I need to get rid of it. Because both of us poured the toxins into our toxic relationship.” Discuss.