Life As We Knew It, Day Three, Chapters 7-8

May 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Life As We Knew It | 10 Comments

Life As We Knew It
Day Three
Chapters 7-8

Chapter 7

Jonny is off to baseball camp.

Miranda goes to visit Sammi and Megan. She’s successful in finding Megan. Though what she finds scares her and shocks her more than a little. Megan’s doing what works for her, I suppose, but it’s a bit weird for the reader to accept I can imagine. I have a hard time feeling that the “right” decision would be to starve yourself with a big, wide grin on your face. But she at least is able to believe in something.

The food situation.

Mom decides–and Matt and Miranda support her decision–to cut everyone’s food consumption. Two meals a day. One day of fasting. I get hungry just thinking about it. The description of their meals. A can of this, a can of that, and if you’re lucky a bit of juice or a can of fruit for dessert.

Thinking ahead.

Matt has decided that he should spend his days–all of the sunlight hours–chopping wood. Chopping down the trees in the woods behind their house. The weather is still summer. But though not much has been said so far, Mom and Matt have a bad feeling about the coming winter months. About what will happen since there is no electricity and extremely limited natural gas for heating purposes.

Electricity is more off than on as the summer progresses. There is still the rare day when it is on for a few hours, but mostly it is off.

“I can’t decide which is worse, no electricity or unreliable electricity. I wonder if I’ll ever have to decide which is worse, life as we’re living or no life at all.” (119)

“Here’s the funny thing about the world coming to an end. Once it gets going, it doesn’t seem to stop.” (120)

July 10th Bad news. Volcanoes. Ash. Climate in chaos.

“Maybe we’ll be lucky. Maybe something good will happen that we can’t imagine just now. But we have to prepare for the worst. You and I and Matt and Jonny have to prepare for the worst. We have to assume frosts in August. We have to assume no power and no food coming in and no gas for the car and no oil for the furnace. Up till now we’ve been playacting survival, but from now on we have to take it seriously.” (123)

Chapter 8

Horton’s big escape. I do feel sorry that the cat got out. And I am glad that he finally finally showed up. It would have been awful if he’d been eaten.

More fighting. I think the fighting is understandable. Everyone is stressed. Everyone’s afraid. Nerves are always always on edge.

July 21rst. Miranda sees Sammi. She’s getting ready to leave town. She’s hooked up with a 40 year old man named George. A man who *loves* her so much that he’s been giving her and her family food and gas. He’s promised to provide for her and take her away from her family. Her family is happy to see her go. Happy to think that their daughter has a chance at life now. But you’ve got to admit that it’s not a pretty picture. Sixteen year olds being a hot commodity now. Essentially selling your body for food and shelter and protection.

July 22nd the cat is back and Mrs. Nesbitt comes over to tell stories about the Depression and World War II. Proof that hard times can be endured. That people survive what they must and do what they have to do.

“I feel so much better about things. After a day like today, I feel like we will make it through, that if we love each other and work hard enough, we’ll survive whatever might happen next.” (137)

Dad and Lisa come to visit and on their way they pick up Jonny from baseball camp. For the visit, the mom has decided to let them all eat three meals a day.

Dad brings ‘gifts’ most of the gifts are food. All of it is welcome. He helps Matt out with the wood situation–chopping down trees, making kindling, etc.

She does run into Dan. He says he’s leaving town. He wishes he’d had the courage to ask her out before all this happened. But things are too chaotic to think about love and romance.

The dinner party. Mom. Miranda. Matt. Jonny. Peter. Dad. Lisa. Mrs. Nesbitt. The dinner seems good, but the after dinner talk turns pessimistic. Lisa can’t handle it. Can you blame her? Imagine being pregnant at a time like this. Imagine knowing that you very well might not have enough food to nourish yourself and the baby. To know that the world you’re baby is being born into is falling apart, that humanity may not survive, that the baby’s chance of survival is so slim. Scary. Scary. Scary. Jonny has his first glimpse of what the future may hold as well. He is for the first time, I believe, realizing that he may not survive, that his family might not survive, that humanity may not survive. That the future is one big question mark. No one knows the answer to the big questions. The only ones that seem to be adapting well are the mosquitoes.

The big goodbye. Lisa and Dad prepare to leave and say their goodbyes. It’s very emotional. Imagine saying goodbye knowing that you may never see each other again, that this could be the last time you see each other. Anyway it’s a big deal to everyone.

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  1. “Horton’s big escape.” Being an animal lover, this was a big deal for me. I held my breath and felt the same pain she did.

    Another thing…

    I always thought it was wild how their parents got along…I was angry at the father for leaving his first three children. True, it was realistic, but that didn’t stop me for being angry. And here he was making a new family…ugh! It’s a sore spot for me…sorry.

    I don’t know about you all, but the book was finished on Sunday and it’s still part of me emotionally. The sky has had an overcast here for three days and all the while, I’m reflecting back to Miranda, Matt, & Jonny and their sky.

  2. Forgot to ask – did you feel the mother favored her sons over her daughter? Or maybe the youngest?

  3. I was nervous for the cat as well. I don’t remember if it is this book or the companion book. But household pets don’t fare too well, being abandoned and such and running wild. Scary. I was happy that Horton was well thought of enough at the beginning–during the initial panic to see that his needs would be met.

    It was hard to read about Dad and Lisa moving on. You could tell he really really loved his three kids. He wanted to make sure they had food and he did spend all that time chopping wood. It was probably the hardest thing he ever had to do.

    Maybe because it was from Miranda’s perspective, I’m not sure what kind of person Lisa is. He has two families to worry about. And he doesn’t like having to choose, but he has to do what he thinks is right for Lisa and the baby. I’m not sure what the alternative would have been. I mean, I don’t know if he’d stayed in town what that would have looked like. If to stay together would have been an option even.

    I know that you’ve finished…and I think a few others have as well…but to not know what happens to them…it is just haunting.

    I did. The answer to your second question. I think for some reason she assumed that one of her sons would be more likely to survive to manage on their own. I don’t know if it was physical strength, mental strength, or what…but I think there was favoritism going on.

  4. I think some of the favoritism is the age. I think Matt and Miranda can deal better with the harsh reality than Jonny can. I think in some ways Mom wants to let him be a little kid. Miranda is 16 (I think or nearly) and Matt is in college so she probably looks at them as adults (as much as you ever do with your children) and doesn’t try to protect them as much. Plus she may just not have the emotional strength to protect them all. At some points I think she is barley holding onto her emotions.

  5. Becky what is the companion book that you spoke of in the previous post? Is there a continuation of this book? 🙂 I hope…

  6. Things that struck me in this chapter:
    I liked Miranda’s speech to Megan (115), “Well, no one says you can be happy about everything.” I [Miranda] said. “I know I should be glad for you, Megan, but frankly I think you’re crazy. And if Reverend Marshall is making you this way, I think he’s evil. This life, this everyday existence, is the one gift we’re given. To throw it way, to want to be dead to me that’s the sin.”

    Matt says on page 130, “People see what they want to see”

    Miranda says “I really don’t deserve to live. Not because of Horton, but if there is only so much food left. I haven’t done anything to earn it. What do I do? Gather kindling? What kind of contribution is that?” (131)

    Sammi thinking she has to marry a man much older because he is providing her family with food (134)

    I couldn’t believe Mom said they were playacting survival – especially after she yelled at Miranda for getting Dan in the food line. I don’t think anything from Miranda’s perspective was playacting.

    Miranda says “Life was easier when you could count on the telephone working”(140). Wow, what an understatement, or the electricity, or the internet, or low gas prices, of confidence in knowing that you are going to have food tomorrow. Or how about, “Things are different when you know where your next meal is coming from” (146).

    Don said that he was glad that the effect of things hadn’t really touched Miranda yet (148). Do you agree with this? I thought this was kind of a cruel statement for him to make. In some ways it hasn’t, but in many ways is has touched her and has affected her – even if she got her pre-asteroid life back she wouldn’t be the same person. How could it not affect people?

    It’s sad that when people leave they don’t seem to keep in touch, like Jonny at camp or Dad and Lisa. It will be interesting if we find out what happened to Sammi or Dan, or Dad and Lisa. I hope we do!

  7. Darcie,

    The Dead and The Gone is the companion novel to Life As We Knew It. Same meteor. Same catastrophe, different setting. It’s set in New York, New York City, I believe. It’s told from the male perspective. A boy, Alex–17, I think, who is taking care of his two younger sisters. It’s very very good.

    Amazon is shipping it already though it doesn’t officially release until June 1rst. Bookstores, I think, may have it as well. But it would be a store by store thing. I think when they receive it, they can sell it. And there have been stories of people finding it already.

  8. Thanks Becky! I will have to try to see if I can find it!

  9. did Horton (the cat) die? PLZ SAY HE DIDN’T! seriously did he die?

  10. No, he didn’t die.


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