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 trailerhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_e mbedded&v=fqMXF_CmjhA The Dead & the Gone book trailerhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l936GsvHhMM 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 trailerhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNZIl-hPGXE As you can see, this book ties books one and two together. 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, too. 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 safe. 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. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>. 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.