Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Miranda never appreciated her normal teenage life. After an asteroid throws the moon off its normal orbit, “normal” becomes a thing of the past. The moon’s gravity alters tidal patterns and tsunamis destroy coastal towns. Volcanoes that have been dormant for centuries begin erupting and the air is perpetually filled with ash, blocking the sun from reaching the ground and lowering the temperature. The most reliable institutions, like the government and schools, try their best to maintain order, but quickly fall apart as life becomes a game of survival. As Miranda and her family fight to survive, they must find hope in the smallest of victories. And as Miranda is confronted with challenges that are more and more grueling, she must decide whether she will remain the normal teenage girl that she once was or whether she will rise to the occasion and develop into a stronger, more compassionate version of herself.
Life As We Knew It is super accessible in that it is an apocalyptic survival story without the usual grotesque details that such stories include. Rather than delving into interpersonal violence and graphic injuries going without medical care, this story focuses more on a single family, separate from the world outside, trying to love and care for each other however they can given the circumstances. The novel is still very stressful to read, as the family faces the real possibility of devastating natural disasters as well as life-threatening food and water shortages with no sign of supplies being replenished. It is certainly not a light read and can provoke anxiety for the future in a reader. That sense of worry is not aroused by using extreme violence, language, or sexual content, but this book would still be more appropriate for young adult readers due to the sometimes hopeless tone of the book as the characters consider their mortality and whether they will truly be able to survive.
*Contains mild language.