The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What I'm Reading: Life As We Knew It

Just finished Susan Beth Pfeffer's YA, end-of-the-world novel Life As We Knew It. In the book the moon is knocked by a massive meteor hit and settles into a new orbit that brings it closer to earth. This plays havoc with the atmosphere, drowns the coasts of the world, and cuts off energy supply lines and most forms of communication.

I'm not giving much away as this all happens in the first couple of chapters.

What makes the book memorable is that it's written as entries in a 16-year-old girl's diary. The narrator's self-centered focus (and the lack of dependable information sources) gives the reader suggestive hints of what's happening globally but keeps the narrative on a poignant, human scale. We follow one family as they make very difficult, and cold-blooded choices about how they're going to live in the face of extinction.

The book strongly evokes two other classics written from a young girl's perspective: The Little House series (in the fierce battles with the elements) , and Anne Frank's Diary (in it's emphasis on small victories over hopelessness). I wonder if the author was consciously riffing on either of these books?

I finished at about 4AM this morning and spent the entire day under a stifling, wintry cloud-- terrified about my dwindling supplies (this is on a 90 degree day in July, so that's quite an accomplishment).

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