Life as we knew it Series By Susan Beth Pfeffer

Laura Pugh, Amberlyn Chapman, Megan Almond,
Mary Lass, Victoria Greene
Life As We Knew It and The Dead & the Gone
To begin, please watch the following:
 Life As We Knew It book trailer
The Dead & the Gone book trailer
Life As We Knew It
You know the premise: Miranda, along with her
family, lives through the traumatic experience of an
asteroid striking the moon. This causes volcanic
eruptions, tsunamis, and other apocalyptic events.
The entire family comes together for their survival
and makes multiple sacrifices in order to persevere.
The Dead & The Gone
Alex Morales is a 17-year-old boy living in New York City with his
family. When an asteroid hits the moon, Alex is forced to take care
of his two younger sisters, Bri and Julie, when his mother doesn’t
come home from work and his father is never heard from again
after a trip to Puerto Rico. In order to keep his sisters alive, he
pillages for food, “body shops” (steals from dead bodies) to find
items to barter with, and eats less to keep his sisters alive. At one
point he sends the older of the two sisters, Bri, to a convent to keep
her safe, but she returns after developing asthma from working on a
farm everyday in the cold. Alex then has to feed himself, Bri, and
Julie while trying to keep Bri healthy, gathering food for them, and
getting himself and Julie to school every day. He eventually gets his
family out of a dying Manhattan, but not before the death of his
sister Bri and coming to terms with the evidence that his parents
perished in the initial natural disasters.
This World We Live In
And now watch this one:
 This World We Live In book trailer
 As you can see, this book ties books one and two
This World We Live In
The third book in Susan Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It series,
This World We Live In brings together the teen protagonists,
Miranda and Alex, from the first two novels. When
Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive at Miranda’s
family’s doorsteps a year after an asteroid collided with the
moon, they are accompanied by a new baby and three
strangers, including Alex Morales and his sister Julie.
Deeply religious, Alex is determined to place his sister Julie
in the safety of a convent while he, himself, joins a
monastery. However, plans change when Alex and Miranda
fall in love. An unexpected tornado changes their plans
further. Tragedy forces Miranda to make a decision that
could ultimately drive Alex away forever.
“Monica Hughes, Lois, Lowry, and
Young Adult Dystopias” by Carrie Hintz
In this article, Carrie Hintz argues that dystopian literature for teens
most often focuses on the political action within the young adults’
lives during the trials that they face.
Although Hintz does not mention Pfeffer’s series in the article, the
series fits into her argument because the series revolves around a
dystopic society that develops after an asteroid hits the moon and
destroys society. The characters in the series are forced to change
their lifestyles in order to survive because of the breakdown of
society and the political structure.
The arguments made in Hintz’s article about the characteristics of
young adult dystopian literature are supported by elements of the
Life As We Knew It series.
What follows are some examples from books 2 and 3. Be thinking
about how book 1 (that we read for class) supports her arguments,
Hintz argues: “…prioritization of collective well-being over the
fate of the individual…” (even if that collective well-being is
just one’s family)
The Dead & The Gone
Alex prioritizes the safety and health of his family over
everything else
Pg. 232- Alex receives tickets that will take him and his sisters to
a “safe town.” He cherishes them and keeps a secret because he
doesn’t want anyone to try and take them. He cares more about
his family getting out than other people and their families being
This World We Live In
Miranda’s mother often does not eat so that her children can
Pg. 13- The weekly food deliveries did not come, so the mother
did not eat in order to leave her children enough of the food they
had stored.
Hintz argues: “Another marker of the young adult dystopias, one
intimately bound with its political message, is the frequent presence
of shame and confusion for the protagonist.”
The Dead & The Gone
Alex is ashamed of the things he is forced to do to keep his
family alive.
 Pg. 154- Alex goes “body shopping” and takes the watch
off of a dead man to barter with for food. His decision
lead him to beg forgiveness as he continues to body shop.
This World We Live In
Alex used to feel prideful, but since the moon/asteroid
disaster he’s felt nothing but shame.
 Pg. 108- “I felt proud…and now I beg for clean clothes
for my sister. I beg for every bit of food we eat.
Hintz argues: “These adolescents find themselves in harsh
environments, or in situations where they must make
difficult--even agonizing--choices.”
The adolescents in this series are forced to make decisions that they
would not ordinarily have to make before the changes in political
and social structure.
The Dead & The Gone
To do what must be done, Alex is forced to make decisions that no one
should have to make.
Pg. 128 – Standing in line to receive government food rations, a riot
breaks out and Alex pushes an old man under the stampede to rescue
his sister after they are separated.
This World We Live In
Miranda must make legitimate life and death decisions.
Pg. 232 – After being paralyzed by a tornado accident, it becomes
clear that Julie will not survive. To end her suffering, Miranda gives Julie
an overdose of sleeping pills and then smothers her in her sleep.
Discussion Board Prompt
1. Using the key ideas from the article by Carrie Hintz (as
stated in this presentation or from your own reading of the
article, which can be found on the Project Muse article
database that is housed in our library), find examples of
how Life As We Knew It corresponds with the characteristics
of young adult dystopian literature just as we have done
with the second two books.
2. Also, talk a bit about the book trailers. What do you think?
3. Optional: consider what kind of series Pfeffer’s is. Is it more
like the Harry Potter type series; the Nancy Drew/Hardy
Boys type series; or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid type series?
How do you know?
Works Cited
Hintz, Carrie. "Monica Hughes, Lois Lowry, and Young
Adult Dystopias." Lion and the Unicorn. 26.2 (2002):
254-264. Web. <>.
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life As We Knew It. 1st ed. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006. Print.
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. The Dead & the Gone. 1st ed.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008. Print.
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. This World We Live In. 1st ed.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. Print.

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