In Case You Missed It – Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by SUSAN BETH PFEFFER

A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is one of those books I’ve thought about rereading for a long time. Initially, I’d read the book way back in 2007. I was thirteen at the time and I had no idea what I was getting myself later. Now, years later, I’ve decided to reread the book for the first time since then. It took me two days to get through it, and let me tell you, dear readers, Life As We Knew It has more than held up.

Life As We Knew It is told in diary entries written by our main character, sixteen-yeaLife As We Knew It (Life As We Knew It Series Book 1) - Kindle edition by  Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.r-old Miranda, as she goes about her daily life. She goes to school, hangs out with her friends, and follows her favorite figure skater through online forums. And then, one night, a giant asteroid hits the moon, pushing it closer to Earth. That’s when Miranda’s life changes, entering a “new normal” that is all too terrifying and all too real.

I vividly remember reading Life As We Knew It when I was thirteen, and as I reread it, I understood why I had such a visceral reaction to the book. It’s deeply, deeply unsettling–one of the most psychologically disturbing stories I’ve ever read. And that’s not because the book is particularly horrific–it isn’t–but it is so plausible that it’s hard not to feel like this kind of scenario could actually happen in the real world. After the asteroid hits the moon, life as Miranda knows it is altered completely. The weather is the first to change. Giant thunderstorms bring floods and power outages. Entire cities and coastlines are wiped out. Then the earthquakes hit. And then, perhaps most terrifyingly, are the volcanos. We hear about all these natural disasters second-hand through Miranda’s diary entries, but hearing about them like this doesn’t make them any less impactful. In fact, hearing about them in this way makes Miranda and her family feel even more isolated in their home in rural Pennsylvania.

In a striking parallel to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a scene early on in the book where Miranda and her family (and her neighbor) go shopping at the supermarket. There are scores of people already there, panic-buying everything they can get their hands on. The shopping trip is chaos, and it reminded me of when people were panic-buying toilet paper and other goods at the beginning of the pandemic.

Miranda’s apocalypse unfolds very slowly. At first, she is still able to go to school and live a somewhat normal life. But then the weather gets worse. The power outages that plague the beginning of the book start happening more frequently, until there’s no power at all. As the seasons change, Miranda is more and more isolated with her family–her mom, her younger brother, and her older brother, and life as they knew it is gone. The fact that Miranda’s apocalypse happens so slowly is what unnerved me the most. This isn’t a sudden societal collapse. It’s a slow moving catastrophe that unfolds one day at a time.

Miranda’s character growth is another outstanding feature of this book. She goes from being a selfish teenager to being a selfless young woman, someone who would do anything to save her family from what they fear is certain death. This isn’t a bleak book, but it does get very dark, especially towards the end. It’s also an incredibly timely read, one I would recommend to anyone–save for younger kids with anxiety like me. It might give you nightmares. Especially right now.

You can check out Life As We Knew it at the Oreana Library today!

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