Life as We Knew It (novel)
|Author||Susan Beth Pfeffer|
|Series||The Last Survivors|
|Genre||Young adult novel, Science fiction|
|Publisher||Harcourt Children's Books|
|October 1, 2006|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-15-205826-5 (first edition, hardcover)|
|LC Class||PZ7.P44855 Lif 2004|
|Followed by||The Dead and the Gone
This World We Live In
The Shade of the Moon
Life As We Knew It is a young adult science fiction novel by American author Susan Beth Pfeffer, first published in 2006 by Harcourt Books. It is the first book in the "Last Survivors Trilogy", followed by The Dead and the Gone. When an asteroid hits the moon and brings it closer to Earth, life in Northeastern Pennsylvania will never be the same again for Miranda and her family, with the lack of food and extreme cold major threats to their survival.
Miranda- The protagonist of the novel, a 16-year-old girl who is attempting to survive in the new, harsh world. The novel is presented as her diary entries. She has two brothers, one of whom she is jealous of, and the other she idolises, but, most of all, she cares greatly for both of them. Her favorite hobby used to be ice skating, but prior to the book's events she suffered an ankle injury, forcing her to stop and take up swimming. She still has a passion of ice skating, idolising Brandon, a world-famous skater from her town. Later on in the novel, she is the only one of her family to not contract a deadly strain of flu and takes care of them throughout it.
Matt- Miranda's older brother who provides and cares for the family, such as collecting firewood to keep them warm in the harsh winter. He is looked up to by his mother and siblings (Miranda "cares desperately what he thinks of her", despite denying it). Matt was studying at college before returning to his family after the event.
Jonny- Miranda's younger brother who has a passion for baseball, attending a baseball camp during the novel. He is secretly voted most likely to live by his family, but comes to resent this when he realizes that they are starving themselves to allow him to eat more.
Laura- Miranda's mother, who was a writer. She has great care for her family, putting their lives ahead of her own often, such as starving herself so her children can have more to eat. She dates Peter during the novel. Later in the book, she sprains her ankle, rendering her immobile.
Megan- Miranda's overly-religious friend. She used to be carefree before she went to church, an interest that began when their mutual friend Becky died. She begins to starve herself at the beginning of the incident with the moon because her pastor told her that God is punishing the human race for their sins. She dies later in the novel.
Sammi- another of Miranda's friends. She had been with numerous boys and fights with Megan, who believes that she leads an immoral life. Shortly after the incident, she leaves the town with her 40-year-old boyfriend George.
Becky- Miranda's friend whom she constantly dreams about. She died before the book begins. She was "like the glue" between Miranda, Megan, and Sammi, and when she died, they began to go separate ways. A large emotional component of the story relates to this.
Mrs. Wayne- Megan's mother. She worries greatly that her daughter is starving herself, as she does not share Megan's religious beliefs. When Megan dies of starvation, Mrs. Wayne hangs herself.
Hal/Dad- Miranda's father who separated from her mother and remarried Lisa. He cares for his children very much, bringing them a large amount of food when they stop in on their way West.
Lisa- Miranda's pregnant stepmother, whose child Miranda will be godmother to.
Peter- Miranda's mom's boyfriend, a doctor. He works throughout the events, and visits several times, but unfortunately succumbs to a deadly flu many months after the incident.
Dan- a boy on Miranda's swim team, who she begins to go swimming with in the local pond, Miller's Pond, after their local indoor pool is closed. They share a short relationship, but he leaves to go to California after his family discover that his sister, who lived there, is dead.
Horton- The beloved family cat. During the novel, Miranda accidentally leaves the door open, allowing him to escape, although he returns soon after. His bond with Jonny is well known, with them spending a large part of their lives together.
Brandon- an ice skater from their town who is training for the Olympics. He is idolised by skaters worldwide. He has a fan-site dedicated to him, which Miranda went on frequently before the event. One day in the novel she surprisingly meets him at a frozen lake, where they talk and skate shortly. Although she continued returning to the lake, she never sees him again. It is assumed he died or left Howell, although it can be perceived that their meeting did not exist, and it was all in Miranda's imagination.
Mrs. Nesbitt- an older woman who is like family to Miranda and her family, having cared for Miranda's mother when she was a child. Before she eventually dies in her sleep inside her house, she tells Miranda that she must take everything of use to help her family survive. They also collected her well water, which hadn't dried up like theirs.
George- Sammi's 40-year-old boyfriend, with whom she moves to Dallas.
Reverend Marshall- The pastor at Megan's church. By telling his congregation that God will sustain them, and behaving in a falsely caring manner, he ensures that they bring him food by way of thanks. This means that he has much more to eat than most people, something which greatly enrages Miranda.
Mayor Ford and Tom Danworth- Two men who inhabit the City Hall. They appear at the very end of the book, and tell Miranda that she can get bags of food from there.
Kirkus Reviews said that "death is a constant threat, and Pfeffer instills despair right to the end but is cognizant to provide a ray of hope with a promising conclusion. Plausible science fiction with a frighteningly realistic reminder of recent tragedies here and abroad." Ilene Cooper said in her review for Booklist that "each page is filled with events both wearying and terrifying and infused with honest emotions. Pfeffer bring's cataclysmic tragedy very close."
Pfeffer's book was named Young Adult Library Services Association's Best Books for Young Adults in 2007, and shortlisted for the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Science Fiction or Fantasy Book of 2007. In addition, it won the Booklist Editor's Choice Award for Books for Youth (Older Reader's Category) in 2006. It was nominated for the 2009 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award and the Truman Readers Award of 2008-2009.
- "LIFE AS WE KNEW IT". Kirkus Reviews 74 (18): 963. September 15, 2006. ISSN 0042-6598.
- Cooper, Ilene (September 1, 2006). "Life as We Knew It". Booklist 103 (1): 127. ISSN 0006-7385.