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Book Club Kits: Life As We Knew It

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, the way “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintry in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!

Read an excerpt from the novel.

Discussion Questions

  • Before the meteor strikes the moon, what are the biggest concerns in Miranda’s life? How do they change in the months that follow?

  • If you were in a catastrophic situation like Miranda, what would you be willing to do in order to survive and take care of your family? Do you think that would change as time went by?

  • After the meteor strikes the moon, services such as telephone, Internet, and television stop, and Miranda writes in her journal that “Civilization had ended.” Do you think people are too dependent on electronic gadgets? What would you do if you could no longer use the gadgets many people have come to depend on in their daily lives? How would your life change?

  • What does Miranda experience at the supermarket that makes her realize how things have changed for the worse? (pp. 35–38)

  • How would you describe Miranda’s relationship with her brothers, Matt and Jonny? How does this relationship change during the course of the story? How about her relationship with her mother?

  • As the family settles into a routine, the household chores are divided along very traditional “men’s work” and “women’s work” lines. Why do you think this happened? Do you think it bothered Miranda?

  • How does Miranda feel about Megan’s religious convictions? (pp. 68–69) How does this affect their friendship? Do you think Megan’s faith is a good one?

  • Miranda and her friends Sammi and Megan have different ways of surviving. Sammi leaves her home with a benefactor; Megan puts her faith in God; and Miranda stays put. Did any of them do the right or wrong thing? What do you think you would do in their shoes?

  • What does Miranda realize about her mom when she visits Megan for the last time? (pp. 164–65)

  • After Mrs. Nesbitt dies, Miranda goes through her kitchen cabinets and says doing so makes her “feel like a cannibal?” (p. 240) Why does she feel this way?

  • Why does Miranda call the family’s first Christmas after the catastrophe “Absolutely the best Christmas ever”? (p. 280)

  • Why does Miranda keep writing in her journal? Who does she think will read her writings?

  • What do you think will become of Miranda and her family and friends? How about her father and stepmother?

  • In many Miranda’s dreams, she struggles to determine if she is in heaven. Why do you think this is important to Miranda? How do her dreams affect her in her waking life? Why does the last dream (p. 326) make Miranda decide she needs to sacrifice herself for her family?