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Prather’s Pick: ‘Life As We Knew It’

Diane Prather

Tidal waves, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

There are reports that the Statue of Liberty has washed out to sea. Untold numbers of people are reported dead. Will the earth ever be the same again?

“Life As We Knew It”, a novel written by Susan Beth Pfeffer, is intended for young adults, but once I started reading it, I couldn’t put the book down. I think older adults will enjoy the book, too.

The story is told in diary form by Miranda, a 16-year-old who lives in rural Pennsylvania with her mother, a writer; brothers Matt, a college student, and Jonny, who is 13; and Horton the cat. Miranda’s father has remarried and lives in another state.

It’s May, and life for Miranda is filled with all of the usual teen things – swim meets, friends, working for a driver’s license and idolizing Brandon Erlich, who might win the Olympic gold medal in figure skating.

That’s how the book begins.

Then, on May 13, there is talk about an asteroid and the moon.

According to reports on CNN and Fox, this will be the biggest asteroid to ever hit the moon. It will be so big that the whole thing may be seen with the naked eye, but most certainly with binoculars. It will happen on May 15.

The television stations continue to air reports. Teachers assign essays about the moon.

On the evening of May 15, there are block parties all across the United States, and there’s excitement in the air. Miranda’s mom even bakes chocolate chip cookies.

The blazing shooting star hits right on time, but suddenly the people aren’t cheering. There’s screaming instead, and some people run for their cars.

The moon isn’t a half moon anymore. It’s a three-quarter moon that’s tilted.

It’s larger and brighter and appears to be rising, only it isn’t. The moon is in the middle of the sky and way too visible. Crater details can be seen without binoculars.

Inside, there is no cell phone service, but Matt is able to call from a pay phone at the college to let his family know he’s fine. The only television channel is NBC out of Philadelphia.

According to news reports, someone miscalculated, and the moon has been knocked out of orbit.

Since the moon controls the tides, there are tsunamis around the world, the eastern seaboard is flooded with tidal waves and the waves are 20 feet or higher in New York City.

Later, reports indicate that the Pacific coast is also affected. Hawaii is gone. So is part of Alaska. Oil refineries are lost. Untold numbers of people are dead.

School goes on the next day, but a lightning bolt hits a tree and sets it ablaze. Wind comes up and blows branches everywhere. There’s lots of thunder and then pouring rain. The electricity goes off.

Miranda’s mother arrives at school to pick her up. Jonny and Mrs. Nesbitt, a neighbor, are waiting in the car. The mother has gotten a bunch of cash and has a plan.

She drives to the grocery store, where the registers aren’t working. Groceries are $100 a cart, so the mother gives each person a list of things to buy.

People are crying and shoving each other, but each member of Miranda’s family gets a cart and fills it as full as possible with cans of food, water, paper items, cat food and litter, health supplies and more.

There’s no bagging, so all the items are thrown into the car, and each person goes back for another cart-full. The shelves are getting bare.

Miranda’s family is lucky because they have a woodstove. Electricity comes and goes, sometimes staying on only a few minutes. The family keeps the washer loaded and the vacuum plugged in.

School still goes on for a brief period, but there’s no prom, no school play and no more hot lunch. School buses don’t run since gasoline is $9 a gallon.

As time goes on, things get even worse, much worse. Will things ever be the way they were before?

This book is guaranteed to keep the reader’s attention. One can’t help but wonder, “Could it really happen?”

“Life As We Knew It” was published in 2006 by Harcourt, Inc. I read the paperback book, which costs $6.95. The book is also available at the Craig Moffat County Library.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2009.

Diane Prather can be reached at 824-8809.


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