Tuesday, December 8, 2009

this world we live in

this world we live in

Susan Beth Pfeffer

The only color I know now is gray, the gray of ash and dirt and sadness.

It’s been less than a year since everything changed, less than a year since hunger and darkness and death have become so commonplace, but I couldn’t remember what life – life the way I used to know it – had been like. I couldn’t remember blue. (p. 2, ARC)

Yesterday I checked my mailbox at school just before I left for the day and discovered an ARC of this world we live in. My plans to finish decorating my house for Christmas quickly flew out the window because the rest of my evening was spent devouring the book (I have a very understanding husband who even cooked dinner so that I could read).

this world we live in begins about a month after Miranda’s last entry in Life as We Knew It. While finally the family is beginning to receive food every week from the government, they are very aware that eventually the food will run out. Because the world outside is finally beginning to thaw, Matt and Jon decide to walk to the Delaware River (about 15 miles away) to fish for shad and hopefully bring enough back to supplement their diet for a while. Not only do they bring back fish, but Matt brings back a wife, Syl. While not exactly welcomed with open arms, Syl soon begins to fit in with the family. And then more company arrives. Miranda’s father, stepmother, and baby brother show up and they bring three new people: Alex and Julie (the brother and sister from the dead and the gone) and Charlie, a man they met on their journey. Now with eleven mouths to feed, survival has become just that much harder.

I honestly don’t want to say anything else about the book because I don’t want to spoil it. this world we live in is a bleak book, but it’s appropriate for the world Pfeffer has created. It’s the story of a family who has been thrown in an impossibly difficult situation yet they are managing (barely) to survive. It is their struggle that haunts me – it’s been two years since I read Life as We Knew It and yet I still think about Miranda and how much food it would take for our family to survive if we were thrust in the same situation.

While this is a survival story, it is also a novel about people and I have become quite attached to the characters. Pfeffer has done a wonderful job with characterization – I feel as though I know Miranda and her family. I don’t feel like I really got to know Alex and Julie any better but that’s ok – this was Miranda’s story and she’s who I really cared about. I have read Pfeffer’s blog for the past two years, and I know she debated about several different plots when writing the third novel. I’m thankful she settled on the story that became the world we live in because it’s a perfect way to end this trilogy.

I received an Advanced Reading Copy from the author and used it to review the book. Quotes need to be checked against the final printed copy of the book, which will be released in April 2010.

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