Who: Susan Beth Pfeffer
What: “High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!” – Amazon product description
When: Adolescences in Literature, but this could have totally worked in my Literature and Technology class because it’s a dystopian novel.
Where: While the book is based in Pennsylvania, it shares a lot about what’s going on in other areas of the country during the whole dooms day/dystopian theme.
Why: I could not put it down! I hated putting it down. Having to go to work, bed, or whatever reason to put it down – I hated it, must keep going! was all my brain wanted.
I honestly can’t come up a rating I’d give this book either. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. There were parts where Miranda got really annoying and then I’d remember she’s sixteen and it all made sense. The way this dystopia is detailed really makes me want to go out buy a wood stove, live on a farm, away from oceans or volcanos, and basically buy every dooms day prep kit – every single one.
Something I wasn’t too much a fan of was the strict gender roles within the novel. Maybe it’s because I know if I were there my mom would have me doing the cooking and cleaning too, but I wouldn’t mind helping with shoveling snow or chopping down wood. Why do the guys get to be outside and never the girls? Miranda has very very short bursts of trying to find the gender roles but she rarely wins – she’ll forever be doing the laundry by hand or every chance the elecritiy comes on.
Maybe I’m not a suspicious reader. Maybe I like reading so much because I allow books to take me into their world on the surface level. But in my adolescence in literature class, they hated this book. The class found Miranda annoying and immature, they found the gender roles disgusting, they hated the need for government, they questioned why there wasn’t any violence, they questioned the characters races, they wanted to know the underlying meaning of purpose in life for the characters.
Personally (and excuse my French) I think my class is full of shit. They continue to rip apart every single book we’ve had in this class. And maybe I’m just being defensive because I liked Life As We Knew It (and Peeps and Cut) but seriously guys? You’re (them, not you 😉 ) taking these books that are meant for teenagers and are a work of fiction waaaay too seriously.
Miranda is a 16-year-old girl. Yes she does complain a lot. But who didn’t at 16? Unless my classmates were super mature at 16, I know I would’ve complained about missing school, sports, TV, and boys if the world was ending and all I could was sit around my house and do laundry. The gender roles were a bit annoying, I’ve already mentioned up top how I wouldn’t have minded chopping some wood. There is a place in the book where the mom needs to use a bed pan, that the brother found and forces Miranda to clean/help with instead of himself – the class loved that, forcing Miranda to continue cleaning. But honestly, I wouldn’t want my son reaching down under me to grab a bed pan when I have a girl to do it for me (but maybe that’s just same sex/locker room mentality?) But they’re also being raised in small town Pennsylvania, the older generation (their mom) is bound to be a bit conservative! The need for government took me by surprise. The class liked to compare this book to The Walking Dead, a show that if it didn’t give me very vivid nightmares I’d still be watching – a show that not only continuously searches for a form of government, but when they don’t have it they have a hierarchy. I think it’s safe to say that the dad of the show is the guy in charge. The lack of violence in the novel did surprise me, but I also kept in mind that they were in a small town (so small they have to drive to their neighbors house); could have just been a tight-knit community. OMG with the race – this is brought up in every single book that doesn’t flat out tell you what race people are. And I get it, it’s good to have marked signifiers of who we’re reading about – but people are taking this way too seriously for a kids fiction book. Nesbitt is a Scottish name, I’m just going to leave it at that.
The only underlying purpose I could see in this book (outside of the adolescence fictional novel aspect) is that she was writing in her diary her upper middle class perspective of how the world was ending and how they were surviving. Maybe if she was writing an actual book she wouldn’t have complained as much. Maybe if she was in a different neighborhood there would’ve been more violence. Maybe if my classmates didn’t take the book so dang seriously and just read it as the literal diary entries of an upper middle class perspective they would have enjoyed it more…