I teach in a parochial school, and my 5th and 6th grade kiddos would have a hard time with this book. As an avid reader of juvenile fiction, I think there are better choices for 5-8 grade kids. This is heavy subject matter. The author does a wonderful job of painting a bleak, dreary, frightening picture of a global disaster, and that's exactly what's wrong with it. The imagery that it creates is a heavy and grey, as if you can feel the weight of these characters around you. Sammi goes off with a 40 year old man so that her parents don't have to worry about feeding her, and her parents seem fine with that, given the circumstances. Megan starves herself to earn redemption for her sins by an unforgiving God. This perception of God is taught to her by a preacher who takes food from his congregation as they are dying from starvation. So much food that he still appears not to have lost any weight at all. I think the message of God and His church in this book is extremely negative. The main character, Miranda, chooses to give up her life by walking out in freezing temperatures in a weakened state so that her family's food can last a few days longer. Luckily, that doesn't occur, but that's about the happiest thing in this story. The ideas of taking care of your family, loving your mother and father, and selflessness are all good messages, but it's told at such a dark, emotional level that I'm afraid some children would be haunted by the tale.