Sunday, February 26, 2012

'Life As We Knew It' Book Evaluation

1.  Identify a position (   /5)
2.  Explain your criteria, application, reasoning for your position with quoted evidence as support. Please indicate the page number of your quote in parenthesis following the quote. (  /10)
3.  Explain the position of the opposition and provide counterargument.  (    /10)

‘Life As We Knew It’, by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This book was extremely griping. Not in the way most people would describe as “griping”. Each page after the moon was hit by the meteor, was a new struggle for Miranda and her family. As the book progressed, the struggles became more and more difficult. However, in each set of pages, there is a ray of light. This book will captivate the reader with its confrontation in the daily struggles in Miranda’s life. Readers will begin to ask themselves: ‘What’s gonna’ happen next?’ ‘How could things get worse?’, and ‘Will Miranda’s family pull through?’. The reader will need to answer these questions and will continue reading until they’re answered. I highly recommend this book to someone who enjoys the silver lining in a dark cloud.

One page turner was the drama factor in this book. So many things were going wrong for Miranda and her family. The number of members in her “family” alone was a problem. There was herself, he two brothers, Matt and Johnny, her mother, her father, her father’s wife Lisa, Lisa’s baby (if we’re counting people mentioned) and Mrs. Nesbit. Luckily Mrs. Nesbit had her own food and Lisa and Miranda’s dad only stayed at Miranda’s home for a short period. However, that still leaves four family members to feed. Feeding two growing boys is difficult in itself without the worry of a scarce amount of food. Not only was eating a worrisome topic, but everyday living was difficult. Ms. Pfeffer never gave specifics as to how Miranda’s family bathed, but from the gist of the book, one can assume they sponge bathed themselves. Then there was the laundry. In the beginning, Miranda mentions how every small amount of electricity they had, they would do a load of laundry. Even at the end Miranda stated

“The electricity came on while we were feasting on chick-peas, lentils and carrots. “Come on,” mom said. “let’s try  laundry.” And we did.” (PG 335).

 One question I had was what did they wear when they ran out of dirty cloths? The idea of wearing dirty clothes for a lengthened period of time makes me want to take a shower. They do mention hand washing them towards the end but I can’t imagine them having to always hand wash their cloths.

Without electricity, Miranda and her family were deprived of television. Thus, they had to rely on radio’s for updates on how the world was working. Shortly after that the radio’s aren’t mentioned because Miranda didn’t want to know what was going on outside. Not only did the lack of a television decrease the amount of information Miranda’s family could receive, but it also deprived them of entertainment. At first Miranda passes her time swimming, Miranda’s mom passed her time listening to the radio and Johnny probably did something related to baseball. Once it got colder and darker, these activities were taken away. One could pass the time reading, but because of the lack of electricity, Miranda’s family was forced top use oil lamps.

As the “winter” progressed, eating and the threat of boredom were no longer the only problems that Miranda’s family had to face. Now there was the fear of keeping warm, the sunroom caving in on them due to the snow and even being able to go into town. When Matt arrived home, he spent most of his time cutting wood. Because Miranda had a wood stove they wouldn’t have to worry about freezing, but the wood stove would only heat one room. Another issue was the fact that oil, gas and natural gas were running out. With a lack of gas, there would be no source of heat for the rest of the house. Eventually Miranda, her mom and her brothers all move into the sunroom where the wood stove was placed. Later, this sanctuary become dangerous when the threat of caving in occurs. Even Matt said “we need to clear the snow off the roof of the sunroom… snow can be heavy and we don’t know if this is the last of it for the winter. We don’t want the roof caving in on us.” (PG 265) So another “chore of survival” would have to be sweeping the snow off of the sunroom.

Even the threat of a flu caused problems for Miranda. One day, her mother and brothers came down with a bad case of the flu. At first Matt was able to help Miranda with Johnny but then he too came down with the flue. With no medical knowledge on what to do, Miranda took her father’s skis and raced the hospital to find Peter, her mother’s boyfriend who had come to help them previously when her mother sprained her ankle. When she arrived, she discovered that Peter had died due to the flu and that the two nurses who were still able to help, couldn’t help her. They simply told Miranda to give up hope and spend whatever time they had left with them. Despite what the nurses said Miranda did what she could for her family and they got better. After an incident with the wood stove, however, Matt had some long term after effects on his body, weakening it.

It’s all of these issues that keep people reading. Some readers may throw the book at a wall and yell “this isn’t going to get any better!” Others will continue to read in the hopes that thing will get better. And at times they do. There’s the times when a birthday or holiday came around, and Miranda’s family would laugh like they used to. Then there were just time when they were having fun together, forgetting about their situation. It’s these happy moments that can give hope to the reader, that there will be a happy ending.

Another page turner is the family hope. Each member knew things would get worse before they got better, but they each still had hope. The strength of family ties in Miranda’s family is a good reason for people to continue reading. To some readers it may issue the challenge of what will break this family. There are moments in that book surrounding mother and daughter disputes, gluttony over some chocolate chips and even the stress of survival that do cause issues for the family. The family pulls through anyway.

The reason that I have stated as to why readers would continue to read is the reasons why I didn’t stop. Normally a book like this would churn my stomach and infuriate me. This one, however, gave me some kind of rush. The rush of what’s around the corner and what will happen next will always get readers reading. This rush is why many people continue to watch a TV series that others have already given up on. However, it’s also for these reasons that people wouldn’t read the book. Readers do enjoy conflict, but not ones as semi-realistic as the one’s Miranda goes through. It makes readers fearful for the future and begin to ask the most dangerous question: what if? What if the moon actually gets hit by a meteor? What if this actually happens? These questions strike fear into the vary bases of peoples souls. The fear of these answers being questions is a huge factor as to why people wouldn’t read ‘Life As We Knew It”. It’s also a reason others will read it. Some will take the chance for these questions to be answered. Those chance takers will be greatly awarded by Mr. Pfeffer’s writing style and storytelling skills. They will experience the rush of going grocery shopping with Miranda and the sorrow when she loses a loved one, unlike the ‘play it safe’ readers who will miss out on these experiences.

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