Back of the Book:
Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event–an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex’s parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.
In Life as We Knew It (2005), veteran writer Pfeffer painted a terrifying picture of what happened in a rural Pennsylvania town after an asteroid hit the moon and cataclysmic changes on land and sea caused familiar life to grind to a halt. For readers who wondered if things were any better in a bustling city, here is the horrifying answer. On the night the moon tilts, 17-year-old Alex and his younger sisters are alone; their mother is at work, and their father is visiting Puerto Rico. No matter how the kids wish, hope, and pray, their parents don’t return. It’s up to Alex to do what’s best. At first that means bartering for food and batteries and avoiding fighting with the rambunctious Julie—especially after sickly Bri is sent to live at a rural convent. Later it means rescuing Julie from rapists and steering her away from the corpses that litter the street, providing food for rats. Religion is one of the strong threads running through the novel. It would have been interesting to see Alex wrestle more with his staunch Catholicism, but in many ways, the Church anchors the plot. The story’s power, as in the companion book, comes from readers’ ability to picture themselves in a similiar situation; everything Pfeffer writes about seems wrenchingly plausible. Grades 8-12. –Ilene Cooper
Format Read: ebook
The very worst thing about this book is the change in story-telling. The author chose to leave journal writing to the girls and followed a boy for the second book in the trilogy. Since boys are much less likely to keep journals or diaries, she tells the story from a third-person perspective. It doesn’t take anything away from the story, but I was really looking forward to the entire trilogy being told through journal entries.
The very best thing about this book is the realism. Pfeffer’s writing is just amazing and she brings the story to life without it seeming contrived.