Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, is an heart wrenching, powerful teens novel. At first it started out rather weakly. Miranda, a sophomore from Pennsylvania lives with her mom, brothers Jonny and Matt, and Jonny’s cat Horton. Her father lives elsewhere with his wife Lisa, who is pregnant, and Her mother is dating a Doctor name Peter Elliott. Everything goes south Wednesday May 18th, when a meteor hits the moon and pushes it closer to Earth. Miranda goes through many difficult things, from starting a meal schedule including fasting to a relationship disaster with her two best friends Megan and Sammi. A lot of things that Miranda lives through in this book echoes through me, as if I would make the same choices, or already have. Her life, a nightmare/living hell, really gets into my head… and makes me think. If this really happened would it really be so horrible? I guess it could be worse.
The first thing that really got to me was the collision. Before the collision the book was slow, the story didn’t have a great flow and was a pretty boring life. The gig behind the book is that it’s Miranda’s journal and she writes in it every couple days, I journal too, but I don’t normally write so much detail about my life… just write down my dreams or write a few words about what year it is and what’s changed since I last wrote. I think that’s what got me about the collision, it was set up in a way that someone would write about… like if I was stuck in a war or something really big was going on I’d probably write it down. For Miranda the moon was a big big deal, on May 13th she did write hearing about it. Even had told how she asked if they could get out Matt’s telescope to see it. It was really tense though, the collision.
“And then it hit. Even though we knew it was going to, we were still shocked when the asteroid actually made contact with the moon. With our moon. At that second I think we all realized that it was Our Moon and if it was attacked, then we were attacked.” (pg. 18-19)
I think that if the world had ended like people kept saying it was going to it would have happened in a way like this. The fact that my life could be affected in such a way by something so distant as the moon, it’s really quite scary. Looking at the moon now… It makes me nervous.
Miranda does make a lot of seriously impulsive choices. She’s a fast thinker, but occasionally she doesn’t seem to realize how her actions affect others or doesn’t care as much about it as she’s expected to. I think this makes her a very human individual. After the collision with the moon three major things happened. The first is that the tides and volcanic activity was affected by the moons gravity- causing world wide earthquakes, eruptions, and tsunamis. Secondly, a lot of people died, along the east coast everything was flooding, most of Rhode Island was covered in water, and all of the oil rigs, the drills and stuff at sea were lost. Thirdly gas prices skyrocketed since there was no way to collect new gas or transport it, stores and businesses shut down almost entirely- grocery stores started giving away food, selling wagon loads for a hundred dollars at a time, and people started hoarding their goods, hiding their food, keeping their blankets and conserving their cash. Halfway through July Miranda’s mom instituted a new rule: everyone fasted on Sundays and ate only two meals a day to conserve food to last through however long it could. By September Miranda was half starved probably but she made a poor decision. “ That’s when I saw the bag of chocolate chips. I’d forgotten all about them, how I’d thrown them into my shopping cart on Crazy Shopping Day. I went a little crazy. There was food in the pantry that Mom wasn’t letting us eat and there was chocolate, real chocolate, in the house and Mom was hoarding it because it has no nutritional value and if we’re only eating a little bit every day, we’re better of with spinach. And they were MY damn chocolate chips. I ripped open the bag and I poured chocolate chips down my throat. I could hardly taste them, I was swallowing them so fast. I must have devoured a third of the bag before I could calm down enough to savor the taste. It tasted just the way I’d remembered only better. I couldn’t stop eating them. I know I was making myself sick. My stomach was already protesting but I kept flinging chocolate chips into my mouth. I didn’t want to share the chocolate with anybody. It was mine.
It’s funny. Somehow I know I’d get caught. Maybe because I was prepared, I made the moment as dramatic as possible. I swallowed another mouthful of chips and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. I must have seen that in a movie somewhere. It worked. Mom started screaming. I’m not even sure she was coherent.” (pg. 192-193)
Wow that’s a longer passage than I thought, anyways it really got me because I think if I was in her position… I would have done that too. I wouldn’t have been prepared for her punishment either though,
“Mom froze. That was a lot scarier than her hysterics. I froze too for a moment. Then I started picking the chocolate chips off the floor. I got a handful of them and didn’t know whether I should put them back in the bag. I stood there like an idiot waiting for Mom to become human again.
“Eat them,” she said.
“Eat them. You wanted them. Eat them Pick them up and eat them. They’re yours. Eat them all. I don’t want to see a single chocolate chip on the floor.” (pg.193)
If my mother had told me to do something like that… well I probably would have booked it out of there before she stopped yelling.
I realized throughout reading Life As We Knew It, that Miranda and I share a lot of ideas, which I think makes her an ideal character. Her decisions are based on choices similar to ones real people make in real places during real crisis, and hers, even more than mine are important ones. It really makes me think about all of the myths surrounding 2012, end of the world stuff. Here’s Miranda deciding that she doesn’t want to die for nothing, so she’s holding on for dear life, struggling with her family to make ends meet. Even whenever another bad thing happens to Miranda she finds a way to deal with it, or she makes a mistake, and is taught that her impulsive decisions could severe the only ties and connections that she has. I believe that if anything even half as bad happened in my lifetime, I would be scared, and probably scarred for life. Even as Miranda and I hold similar lives, I live the boring one. I’m grateful for that in a way, because I don’t think I’m half as determined to live as Miranda is in her journal, I just hope she continues writing.