I am collecting books for my niece to read as she grows into them. Recently, I saw Life As We Knew It as a clearance paperback on Amazon and the premise sounded interesting. LAWKI is marketed towards grades 6-8 so I thought this might be a good entrance into the post-apocalyptic / dystopian world for an 11-12 year old. Before I gave it to her, though, I wanted to read for myself (hey, it sounded pretty good) and determine if it was appropriate for her age.
So, here’s the thing – I liked it (4/5 stars) and think that it would probably be fine for her in several years. When I was her age, I remember worrying almost constantly. I had realized that death was inevitable and that there were so many ways that could happen. I worried about nuclear war on a daily basis, car accidents, cancer, etc. This stage passed pretty quickly but would come back occasionally for years. While I don’t want her to be sheltered, I also don’t want to scare her unnecessarily. And, I have to admit that this book could do that.
Astronomers have informed the world that an asteroid is going to hit the moon so everyone sits outside in their lawn chairs and watches the show. Pretty quickly they realize that something isn’t right. The moon tilts and starts moving towards the earth. Luckily, it does stop but the orbit has completely changed. Science lesson everyone – the moon actually impacts a lot here on earth. The first effect noticed is the tides – tsunamis are reported and much of the coastline is destroyed. LAWKI tells us one family’s survival story. The narrator, Miranda, is a 16-year-old high school student. Honestly, she is fairly annoying for the majority of the book. She would have moments of clarity but then would say that she didn’t understand that things weren’t going to “get back to normal”. In some scenes, the adults weren’t much better. They believed the school was going to be able to provide lunches for their children when there was little to no electricity, gas rationing (so no trucks/trains coming in) and very limited supplies. There are other effects on the weather and the atmosphere (again, didn’t most people have basic science knowledge to know that the moon’s pull would cause these things?)
Anyway, it was a good story even if a little annoying in spots. I do wish the author hadn’t chosen to insert such strong political and religious beliefs into a book for children. It seemed that most of the adults were either ultra-liberal (bad-mouthing the president – Bush at the time) or religious zealots (like the pastor who is eating food that his parishioners give him while they starve to death in the name of God.) I would have liked a more balanced approach to both sides as I do believe that most people are somewhere in the middle in real life.