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Life As We Knew It

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Life As We Knew It




  Life As We Knew It

Harcourt, Inc. 2006 

Orlando, FL

337 pages



Susan Beth Pfeffer 

Born: 1948

New York, NEW YORK


Current Home: Middletown, NEW YORK





Author Bio


Susan Beth Pfeffer is an award winning and prolific author, writing books for children, young adults and adults since 1970.  Inspired by her father publishing a book on constitutional law, she wanted to be a writer from a very young age.  She published her first young adult novel, Just Morgan, before she graduated from college.  She has always been a writer, publishing more than 60 titles of contemporary and historical fiction, series books, and picture books. She has also written a book for adults on writing for children.  Her most notable books, include About David, a South Carolina Young Adult Book Award winner, and The Year Without Michael, the ALA Best Books for Young Adults,  YALSA Best of the Best, and Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year.




Plot Summary


Miranda’s diary entries over nearly a year’s time allow readers to experience a plausible global tragedy through the day to day experiences of one teenager and her family.  The moon is knocked out of its orbit by an asteroid and moves closer to the earth.  The disruption of the moon’s orbit causes catastrophic natural disasters including tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.  Typical teen concerns of school and homework, friends, and family issues soon change dramatically.  Disbelief is tempered with anger, fear and frustration as Miranda, her Mom, and brothers Matt, 19 and Jonny, 13 do what’s necessary to survive the disaster.  Miranda grows up quickly as her world shrinks and she faces the harsh realities of a changed world.  Each member of the family makes sacrifices and finds the strength necessary to survive.  The ending is far from happy, but allows a glimmer of hope.


Review Sources



    This site includes reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Children's Literature, VOYA, School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.












Coming of Age 



Family Relationships 





Science Fiction

Teen Fiction




Finalist for the Andre Norton Award for best young-adult SF/fantasy novel of the year

2006 ALA Best Book for Young Adults

CCBC Choices

Junior Library Guild Premier Selection





The biggest asteroid ever will hit the moon on Wednesday night at 9:30.  For Miranda, the “moon situation” begins as a huge inconvenience and seems like just another excuse for more homework assignments.  But something goes terribly wrong.  The moon is knocked out of its normal orbit and moves closer to the earth.  The scope of the disaster grows and includes tidal waves, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as no communications, no food, no gas and epidemic diseases.  The climate changes drastically and so does everything Miranda knows about life and living.  Through her journal entries over almost a year, we share this disaster and how Miranda and her family cope and hold on to hope.      


Book Discussion Questions


What do you think about the cover art?


The book is classified as science fiction.  Do you think it is realistic?  Why or why not?


What do you think is worse -  the cold, the hunger, the boredom, or the fear?



Matt is a role model and provides an anchor for Miranda throughout the ordeal.  He also tells her anybody can be a hero if they choose to be.  What makes a hero in these dire circumstances?   What makes a hero in our world today?


One reason Miranda hates her Mom is when she gets yelled at for including Dan in the food line in June.  She insists that ‘family is all that matters and this is not the time for friendships’.  This attitude goes against everything she ever taught them.  Is her point of view justified?  Why?


From the beginning of the lunar event, Miranda’s friend Megan focuses on heavenly concerns and takes refuge in her church.  How did you feel about the confrontation between Miranda and Reverend Marshall? (Read the October 15th journal entry)

How would you deal with those feelings?


The family lives in the sun room.  On November 18th Miranda writes “I have no privacy, but I feel so alone.”  How would you feel if you were in Miranda’s situation? 


The story ends with food they can count on and sporadic electricity.  Miranda describes it as a day to celebrate.  If you were to write a sequel, what would happen next?






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