Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Miranda is your average teenage girl finishing up her sophomore year of high school. Miranda gives, what at first seems to be an uneventful account of her day to day life through the pages of her journal. Miranda is the middle child with an older and younger brother. She lives with her mom and younger brother in Pennsylvania. Things seem to be going about as normal as you would expect for Miranda and her family. Oh yeah, with the exception of her Dad’s new wife being pregnant and more importantly the upcoming astronomic event involving the moon that will change history.

Nothing like this has ever happened before and everyone is eagerly anticipating experiencing the event in just a few days. Every aspect of Miranda’s life now centers around this event. Miranda’s teachers base all of the homework assignments around the upcoming event- from French to history class. People are planning lawn parties; the news coverage with its accompanying expert commentary is becoming nauseating. And then it happens! What no one expects happens next as the event changes not only history but the course of human life as we know it.

The setting, characters, and plot development are slow. Then as Miranda’s life spins out of control things quickly change. In the pages of Miranda’s journal we read detailed accounts of not only how life around her has changed, but also the changes that occur within her as a result. Miranda struggles with who she once was, who she is, and who she will become- if she survives. The journal accounts are sometimes long and drawn out, and at other times are very short with such thoughts as, ‘I hate the moon.’ At times I was unable to put the book down and at times I needed a mental break from the details of Miranda’s life.

Are you prepared for a change to life as you know it? How would you prepare for such a change? These thought provoking questions come to mind while reading this novel and would be great writing prompts for a literature or language arts class. This non-controversial novel would be a good edition to a required reading list for grades 7th-12th. Struggling readers may absorb the text best by reading in small groups rather than individual reading. Also, because this book addresses a cataclysmic event that changes life on Earth, it could also be used as supplemental reading in a geography or world events class.

Teens Top Ten Best Books, Nominations for 2007


MRH said...

i want to know what happens with the moon! i could see how this book could move slowly but the promise of something big at the end might keep it going. this book isn't sci-fi or something is it? like you read the whole thing to find out that dogs fly and it was all dream? i hate that!!

Janine said...

LOL! I know what you mean Mallory, and that would have been very disappointing! I didn't want too give to much of the plot away and wanted to intrigue those who would read the review enough to make them want to read more on-line or check the book out of a library (it's available through inter-library loan).

The book isn't sci-fi, it's more...realistic fiction (remember that discussion on Blackboard). I will say that it isn't a dream and though the first few chapters are a bit slow, what happens with the moon happens early on. And also, knowing what we know about the possible effects of global warming, and the role the moon plays in our solar system what happens is plausible :)

Tom Philion said...

Bravo! This is one of the best booktalks I have seen in a while, including outside of our project--outstanding!


Mirja said...

Your booktalk is really great. Besides the pictures, I especially love your voice and your pace. It fits perfectly to what you are saying.

Janine said...

Thanks Tom! And Thanks Mirja!

Both of your comments are very encouraging!